You’d think that being second-biggest in the world at anything would confer a certain amount of status; prestige, even. But a hard-times story in Anderson puts that supposition to bed.
The second-largest high school basketball arena in the world sits empty of everything but memories and memorabilia, a mute time capsule depicting better days. At once immense and intimate, the 1961 Wigwam was built in Anderson’s boom years, when General Motors employed 40,000 and single-class Hoosier Hysteria reigned supreme. A culture and tradition developed at the Wigwam unique even in a basketball-crazed state. If basketball was the state’s religion, the Wigwam was the epicenter, and when the Anderson High School Indians took the floor at 1301 Lincoln Street, the crowd was usually at capacity—8,996.
But since the GM presence began diminishing in 1980, everything has dwindled in Anderson—jobs, population, money, attendance, hope. With an annual facilities budget equal to the salaries of ten new teachers, the Anderson School Corporation was forced to shut down the Wigwam in 2011.
Now it seems the only thing keeping the Wigwam standing is the expense of demolition—and the fact that no one relishes dealing such a devastating blow to the community and the heritage the landmark represents.
A dogged group of supporters still hopes the landmark arena can be saved. To learn more, contact J.P. Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums—you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.