Second Tour of Coca-Cola Plant Offered

INDIANAPOLIS — On Feb. 17, Indiana Landmarks will offer another “before” tour of the historic Coca-Cola bottling plant that Hendricks Commercial Properties will soon convert to Bottleworks — apartments, restaurants, retail shops, movie theaters, and a boutique hotel — just prior to the start of construction. The nonprofit organization’s first “before” tour of the site, held last summer, sold out weeks before the event.
James Yuncker built the white terra cotta building at 850 Massachusetts Avenue in 1931, in the depths of the Great Depression. With a style that was lavish by factory standards, especially at the time, the building stands as a testimony to Yuncker’s faith in the growth trajectory of his core product, Coca-Cola. He commissioned the design from Rubush and Hunter, a firm known for prominent structures that are now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Jungclaus Construction Company built the plant.
The plant expanded with additions in 1941 and 1951, as well as additional garages. By 1950, the facility was considered the world’s largest bottling plant, with 260 employees and a fleet of 110 delivery trucks. After Yuncker died in 1964, Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman bought the Coca-Cola franchise and moved bottling operations to Speedway. He stored his collection of vintage automobiles in the Massachusetts Avenue building until he sold it to Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) in 1968. IPS turned the bottling works into a central kitchen for school lunches, and used other areas for storage, a woodworking shop, and as classrooms for adult and experimental education. The garages remained, housing school buses instead of soft drink delivery trucks.
“The plant is not heated, although there will be industrial heaters scattered throughout the building. Dress warmly!” urges Gwendolen Nystrom, Indiana Landmarks’ Director of Heritage Experiences.
Tickets must be purchased in advance. The tour is not accessible; the site has no working elevators and is not navigable for guests with walker, canes, stroller or wheelchairs. The tour will be held Feb. 17 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance: $15 per person ($12 for Indiana Landmarks members). Tickets may be purchased or by calling 317-639-4534.