Two decades ago, an inferno at the Indianapolis Athletic Club claimed the lives of three people, two of them firefighters. The tragedy awakened the city to its neglect of fire safety and reshaped IFD. But the knowledge came at a terrible price.
Even now, on off-duty drives through downtown, some of them will seek another route, any other route, to avoid the shadow of the nine-story building at Meridian and Vermont streets. For most of the city, the Indianapolis Athletic Club is an elegant landmark from an earlier time, an old-boy haven where Democratic Party elites once hosted parties and presidents. But for firefighters who crouched in its halls 20 years ago, it is still an imposing reminder of one of the Indianapolis Fire Department’s darkest nights.