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Celebrating Black History: The Madam C.J. Walker Building

Celebrating Black History: The Madam C.J. Walker Building

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Madam C.J. Walker building is one of the last surviving buildings on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis. It’s also a source of empowerment of education for people all around the world.  

Indiana Avenue was once a thriving center of music, commerce, and culture for Indianapolis’ Black community, with the Walker Building at the center of it.  

In 1910, Madam C.J. Walker relocated her business to Indianapolis. As the business continued to thrive, Walker decided to begin construction on a larger factory.

It would open in 1927, eight years after her death, and eventually become much more than just a building.

While the building was home to the Walker factory and corporate offices, the structure also included a pharmacy, beauty salon, barbershop, cosmetology school, restaurant, medical offices, ballroom, and 1,500-seat theater.

It would serve as a gathering place for residents of Indiana Avenue and a venue for some of the finest performers of the time, including Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole.

After several decades, the gradual decline of Indiana Avenue nearly sent the building into disrepair and demolition.

Thanks to community involvement, the buildings’ history and cultural significance have been recognized, and renovation has allowed it to remain open and functional allowing the legacy of America’s first self-made millionaire to live on for future generations.