Riverside Park monument to former Indianapolis mayor in disrepair

INDIANAPOLIS -- An 84-year-old memorial honoring turn-of-the-century Indianapolis Mayor Thomas Taggart is in dire need of a facelift, and a task force has been created to make that happen. 

Thomas Taggart was elected mayor of Indianapolis in 1895 and served three terms. 

While mayor, he created Indy Parks and purchased 953 acres of park land, including Riverside Park, where the monument stands in its current shabby state.

Riverside Civic League President Peggy Gamblin grew up in the Riverside neighborhood, and she said it hurts to see the monument in such a state.

Taggart is described as an extraordinarily charitable man who rose above partisan politics.

"He paid his Republican opponent's campaign costs, because he knew this candidate had a young family and couldn't afford the cost of his campaign," Taggart Memorial Task Force Chairman Jim Fadely said. "I couldn't imagine that happening today."

When Taggart was on the political stage he fought for the underdog and stood up against the Ku Klux Klan.

"Taggart stood up against them at every point," Fadely said. "It's yet another example of his political courage, and the way that he conducted himself could be a model for us today."

Late landscape architect Eric Fulford created a rendering of what he envisioned for the site.

A $15,000 grant will fund a feasibility study for the project, which is expected to cost about $1.5 million plus a $500,000 endowment.

Gamblin has a keen idea of what she'd like to see in the park's future, beginning with getting the monument's fountain up and running again.

"But on the back side (of the monument), which is a big scooped out area, it would be a great place for us to have festival seating and make the monument the stage where we can have concerts," she said.

Two years ago the Indiana Landmarks Foundation replaced the roof on the monument in an effort to slow down the deterioration of the structure.


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