Talbott Street Ribbon Cutting

Commonwealth Engineers, Inc. was honored to participate in the Talbott Street ribbon-cutting, an event that marked significant access improvements to the historic Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site near Downtown Indianapolis.

During the event on July 31, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett praised the design work by Commonwealth and its collaborative partner in the project, Guidon Design, a service-disabled, veteran-owned engineering design firm.

The project focused on reconstructing the historic backstreet known as Talbott Street, near 12th Street, to better connect visitors to the nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, home to the Peace Memorial honoring King and the late Robert F. Kennedy.

“While this update to Talbott and 12th streets will greatly improve access for the families of King Park, it is also an improvement of the tens of thousands of visitors to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site,” Hogsett said. “For students on a field trip, for traveling history buffs and for many other visitors. This home serves as the introduction to our City. Today, that introduction becomes even better.”

Connecting the two sites was a key component in creating the new Presidential Commons and Advancing American Democracy Plaza.

The project reconstructed the historic Talbott Street along the west side of the President Benjamin Harrison Home on the south edge of the property, using salvaged brick from the original street, which was laden with potholes and had fallen into disrepair with concrete and asphalt patching.

A 7-foot wide strip of new brick was installed along the west side to provide ADA walkability needs, and the historic brick was reused everywhere else. It is estimated that nearly 70% of the historic brick was salvaged and reused in the project. A nearby alley, relocated during construction on the nearby Interstate 70, was milled and repaved with asphalt, widening it by two feet. The result is easier access for pedestrians and for buses that bring schoolchildren and other visitors to the site, as well as improved access for emergency vehicles.

The $600,000 project was one of 10 that received funding from the Indianapolis Department of Public Works through the 2019 Indianapolis Neighborhood Infrastructure Partnership program.

To complete the project, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works partnered with the Presidential site and its sponsor, the Arthur Jordan Foundation, which provided 50 percent of the funding for this much-needed plaza.

Indianapolis City-Council President Osili noted that the improvements to the site provide access to visitors at just the right time for them to engage in current conversations.

“These historical sites, fascinating as they may be, are not able to be appreciated by those in our City and our Nation, if they are not broadly and appropriately accessible to students and visitors,” Osili said.

The Plaza connects the King Park to the site of the 16-room Italianate-style house and carriage house built in 1874 by Harrison, while practicing law in Indianapolis. After his presidency in 1893, Harrison returned to the home to reside until his death in 1901.

The King Park is named for the late civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy spoke to those gathered to hear his presidential campaign speech, but instead had to break the news that King had been assassinated. The park is home to the Peace Memorial, which honors the contribution to both slain leaders.