Ivy Tech Gets Cooking in Historic Indy Hotel


I attended a Yelp Indy event last Thursday at Ivy Tech, which showcased the school’s new student-run Courses restaurant and bakery (housed in its culinary school at 28th & Meridian in downtown Indy).

Led on a tour by chef Thom England, we stopped by several stations and sampled a variety of appetizers and wines, all before having the pleasure of eating and drinking at Courses, located in the penthouse. With Sun King brews on tap, unique cuisine options and a wonderful view of downtown, it made for a delightful evening. It’s a very impressive facility in which Indiana’s future cuisinal artists can perfect their craft.

Here’s more info on the restaurant, which I highly recommend you frequent based on my experience. Also, for those Hoosier history enthusiasts like me, here’s a bit about the building the restaurant and Ivy Tech’s culinary school now reside in:

In the 1880s Gilbert Van Camp developed a method to can fruits and vegetables for the family store, located in Indianapolis.  He made his fortune during the Civil War, as this canning method made it possible to send beans to the soldiers in the field.  In the 1880s, Gilbert and his wife, Hester, purchased the property at 2820 North Meridian Street and built their mansion.  It remained a private resident until the early 20th Century, when it became the home of the International Typographical Union.

The Stouffer Restaurants purchased the property in the 1960s.  The mansion was demolished and the Stouffer Hotel was built in 1965.  The focal point of the hotel was the penthouse restaurant, The Ramsgate, which featured woodwork, stained glass and a fireplace from the original mansion, as well as an amazing view of the downtown skyline.  The hotel quickly became one of the prominent locations for weddings, proms and other celebratory events in the city.  The hotel was also a favorite lodging site for local and national celebrities when they visited Indianapolis. Richard Lugar held his inauguration celebration at the hotel when he was elected as mayor of the City of Indianapolis.  Dolly Parton and the Osmonds stayed at the hotel, and legend has it that Elvis stayed on the 11th floor of the hotel in 1977 when he was performing in Indianapolis – a performance that would turn out to be his last live performance.  The hotel remained popular until the mid-1980s, as the popularity of downtown grew and became the focal point of the city.  The hotel closed in the late 1980s.

The building remained vacant until the early 1990s, when it was purchased by Bill Gothard Ministries, who established the Indianapolis Training Center.  The Christian-based ministry provided vocational, as well as Christian-based education to at-risk youth and families.

With a $23 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Ivy Tech Community College acquired the property in 2010 and renovated the facility for classroom and conference space.  The Corporate College and Culinary Center opened in August 2012, and houses the region’s Corporate College, Hospitality Administration Program and a conference center.  With state-of-the art technology, the center provides Ivy Tech’s Corporate College the opportunity to provide training and development solutions for Indiana businesses through specialized courses and certifications.  The center also features a student operated fine-dining restaurant, Courses Restaurant, and bakery/café, Courses Bakery, as well as a conference cente, with over 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space available to the public.

On this topic, I’ve also penned an article about Harrison College for the upcoming January/February issue of BizVoice magazine, which will include information on that school’s renowned culinary program as well.

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