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 Weird Indy

Old National Centre

502 N New Jersey St
+1 317-231-0000
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Arkitextures of Indianapolis - Misrified Indianapolis  United States
Largest Shriner Temple in the USA Indianapolis  United States
Arkitextures of Indianapolis - Misrified Indianapolis  United States
Largest Shriner Temple in the USA Indianapolis  United States

Arkitextures of Indianapolis - Misrified

If you've ever been to Cairo, there is a lifelong sense of withdrawal, we call the effect being"Misrified." When I miss Cairo I like to drive to downtown Indianapolis where the Old National Center (formerly the Murat Theatre) appeases the longing for interesting buildings.

Built in1909 by the William P Junclaus Company and designed by Oscar D Bohlen, a Shriner, the building is inspired by an amalgamation of Egyptian buildings. The simple explanation, that it is inspired by Middle Eastern buildings, does not do the building or the architect justice. There are domes that are reminiscent of the Southern Cemetery in Cairo, and crescent moons that are inspired by the Ottoman age. However, it is the simple plan accented with a minaret supported by a square-shaped base that evokes images of Ibn Tulun, one of the famous mosques of Cairo.

The Old National Center is a fantastic place to enjoy the latest rock concert. After a show though, why not spend some time exploring the architecture of this fascinating building, and perhaps take an imaginative trip to Cairo? Misrification it seems can happen anywhere.

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almost 3 years ago

Largest Shriner Temple in the USA

Wonder what exactly the Arabic-inspired building on Mass Ave could possibly be, I set off to investigate and found an answer stranger than I would have thought.

This building was owned by the Murat Shriners of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, which frankly sounds like the hokiest nonsense I’ve ever heard. (No offense, Shriners.)

For those who are not American or have never attended an American parade, Shriners are a sort-of offshoot of Freemasons who describe themselves as “a fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth”. While they do good work with their Shriners Hospitals for Children (who accept patients regardless of their ability to pay), they’re most well-known for wearing red fezzes and driving around in tiny cars.

No, I am not making this up.

A bit about the building itself:

The Old National Centre/Murat Shrine is the largest Shriner temple in the United States.

The building is the oldest stage house in downtown Indianapolis, having been completed in 1909.

The Murat Shrine holds the distinctive honor of giving the Indianapolis Zoo its first camel.

I’m glad I set out for the oddly Arabic building jutting above the other standard buildings to learn about its interesting if vaguely unsettling appropriation of another culture’s architecture and culture. I mean really, who would could have imagined such a thing existed smack dab in the middle of Indianapolis?

Not I.