Where They Played Basketball, They Now Make Beer
“Indiana has some of the most historic high school basketball gyms in the country. And this is one of them. So, we were like, “Why not?”
That is what Bobby Mattingly, general manager of the Moontown Brewing Company told the Indianapolis Business Journal early last year. He had just opened the brewery with headmaster Cody Peczkowski in what used to be the Whitestown High School gymnasium that had been closed for 55 years.
Whitestown High School opened in 1915 and housed four classrooms. In 1941 a new basketball gymnasium would be built next to the school. The barrel-vault roof gym would be home to countless basketball games for the next 20 years, but like many small school districts in that era, Whitestown consolidated with Lebanon and Western Boone Schools.
In 1963 the school officially closed and the building would be home to a beauty school, auction house, warehouse, t-shirt factory, and apartments units. The deteriorating building would become an eyesore to the community that in recent years seen a spurt of population movement to the area.
In May of 2017, the building was sold by the town to Mattingly and Peczkowski for $1 and the renovations soon began on the old building that according to Matting still had “good bones”. The brewpub and restaurant would open less than a year later and house countless pieces of memorabilia that includes old class yearbooks, basketballs, varsity letters, and photos inside the red and brown glazed block walls.
The gyms history is honored with wood trim halfway up the walls that were salvaged from bleacher seats, steel material used for the brewpub entry and the bar canopy was salvaged from the home team’s bleacher support, and a replica of the center court logo has been repurposed as a chandelier. The gym windows on both the east and west walls are the original steel frames that are now restored with new glass.
The main court is now the 1915 Room that is home to special events at the brewpub. The original stage is still intact and features a multi-color painting on the walls that the original remnants from plays performed at the school. The basketball court markings have been repainted in the original locations.
Moontown Brewing Company will celebrate its first year anniversary in a few weeks and a visit to the brewpub sets it apart from many other facilities of its kind in the Indianapolis market. The walls are carefully decorated with Whitestown High School memories from yearbook photos, signed basketballs, and old signage from the school’s almost 50 years of history.
When you visit the old gym, grab a pint of the pilsner, breakfast stout, or pale ale and take a glance around the room. The place is dripping with high school history, perhaps the most curious place where Hoosier Hysteria is alive and a well.