Madam Walker Theatre

About this Project


Date Closed: August

Total Project Cost

New Markets Tax Credit Investment

The Madam C.J. Walker Building, built in 1927, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Located at 617 Indiana Avenue, Indianapolis, the historic building was the corporate headquarters of the Madam C.J. Walker Company, founded by Madam C.J. Walker. Madam C.J. Walker was an African American hair care and beauty products entrepreneur, in the Guinness Book of World Records noted as becoming the first female self-made millionaire in America. The building has endured as a venue for business, entertainment, community events, arts and cultural programs and commercial enterprises being recently renamed the Madam Walker Legacy Center to honor the many business and community contributions made by the late Madam C.J. Walker.

Indy CDE financed the restoration and update of the historic 40,000 square foot building that once housed the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company with a $10 million NMTC loan. The Madam Walker Legacy Center is an integral part of the community, which preserves Madam CJ Walker’s legacy by providing cultural education, promoting social justice, and empowering young people to become entrepreneurs and civic leaders. The building will also serve as the home office for certain administrative functions of IUPUI, a neighboring university that has supported the renovation of the building and its continued operation as an important part of the Indianapolis landscape.

This project renovated the facility from top to bottom by updating and replacing older mechanical systems, improving lighting, refurbishing carpeting, seats, other furniture, and many other improvements. New classrooms, a conference area, seminar rooms, and a dedicated community space increase the Center’s capacity to serve the community. These updates transformed the theatre into a valuable contemporary asset for the Indianapolis community while maintaining its historic character.

The project preserves Madam Walker’s legacy in an updated home where generations can come and attend theatre performances, films, lectures, debates, workshops, and tours that have attracted over 28,000 attendees annually.

“The Madam Walker Legacy Center, an iconic, historic institution, preserves the legacy of Madam CJ Walker by providing cultural education, promoting social justice, and empowering young people to become entrepreneurs and civic leaders.”