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Celebrating Black History: McArthur Conservatory

Celebrating Black History: McArthur Conservatory

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — All month long, WISH-TV is highlighting people and places where you can celebrate Black History Month.

In 1946, Crispus Attucks High School alum Ruth McArthur opened the McArthur Conservatory at 808-810 Indiana Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.

The McArthur Conservatory was the first school in Indiana to offer a formal jazz program. The conservatory had over a dozen departments, most of which offered two to three year programs. Departments included voice, choral workshop, piano, guitar, drama, instrumental studies, dance, church music.

The school was a training ground for jazz greats like Dr. Larry Ridley and Slide Hampton.

Many of the students would perform in jazz clubs around Indiana Avenue and for various community groups and events. Desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in more opportunities for African-Americans to study at other institutions. This caused a decline in enrollment at McArthur Conservatory.

By 1963, the school would close. Indiana University purchased the building in 1967.