riversidehigh Riverside High School

Former naval armory is now a charter high school in Indianapolis

The decommissioned Heslar Naval Armory underwent a $10 million renovation and is now home to Riverside High.

A decommissioned naval armory in Indianapolis has become the new home for a charter high school.

The Indianapolis Star reports that the Heslar Naval Armory, decommissioned in 2015, has been converted into a permanent home for Riverside High School, a charter school that opened in temporary space last year.

Riverside is the second charter high school run by Indianapolis Classic Schools; Herron High School was its first campus. Riverside's founding class spent last school year in a nearby church while renovation at the armory was completed.

The school says on its website that as a former reservist training center, the armory building already contained many classrooms and offices and was perfectly suited to become a high school.

“Its origin is as a learning facility,” says Katie Dorsey, principal at Riverside High School. “It was a training facility that had classroom space and a gym space and very much had the vibe of a school.”

Much of the $10 million renovation involved preserving the building’s historical features and replacing and updating mechanical equipment to meet the needs of a modern high school.

Construction on the armory started in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal plan to put Americans back to work during the Depression.

The armory was completed in 1938.

The building now offers a spacious gymnasium that is home to athletics teams, a two-story music room that will be the rehearsal location for choir and instrumental music programs, four modern science labs, and a former officer’s lounge repurposed as a coffee shop.

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