Madam C.J. Walker Building
The Madam C. J. Walker Building, which houses the Madam Walker Legacy Center, was originally built in 1927 in the city of Indianapolis as the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, one of the earliest – and for many years, the most successful – Black-owned and operated businesses in the United States.
The four-story, multi-purpose Walker Building was named in honor of the company’s founder, Madam C. J. Walker, an Black hair care and beauty products entrepreneur who displayed a legendary commitment to the employment of Black women and her promotion of arts in the Black community.
In addition to serving as the world headquarters of her company, the Walker Building – located at 617 Indiana Avenue – was also a hub for entertainment – including jazz music, film, and theater – as well as business for the Black community of Indianapolis from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Madam C.J. Walker – born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 – began development of the Walker Building and its theatre before passing away in 1919; A’Lelia Walker, her daughter, oversaw the completion of her mother’s project.
The building – which was saved from demolition in the 1970s – later underwent an extensive restoration effort and features African, Egyptian, and Moorish designs, making it one of the few modern examples of African-Art Deco buildings in the United States. The building was listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures, incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991.
As a means of paying homage to Madam C.J. Walker, the mission of the existing building today is one of promoting social justice, providing cultural and arts education, and empowering “the next generation of entrepreneurs, business owners, and civic leaders” and serves as a “symbol of African-American pride.”
To find out more, please visit https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/indianapolis/walkerbuilding.html
Madame CJ Walker Building
617 Indiana Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202