img 317-923-5750
img coburn@coburnplace.org
img 604 East 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46205
  • Follow us:
  • RSS

  • LinkedIn

Celebrating Bill Browne: A Commitment to Coburn Place and his Neighborhood Legacy
23rd Feb

2020

Celebrating Bill Browne: A Commitment to Coburn Place and his Neighborhood Legacy

Celebrating Bill Browne: A Commitment to Coburn Place and his Neighborhood Legacy

 

Supporter Nancy Barnes and her father, Bill Browne, have almost 100 years of history with Coburn Place. 

Bill Browne attended school at IPS School #66, Henry P. Coburn, from 1933 to 1941. And then 78 years later, in November of 2019, he came back for a tour, and ended up giving one instead. 

 

86 years ago

In 1940, he was a safety guard.

“They were called traffic boys back then,” he remembered.  He wore a white belt and held a sign. His post was on the east side of Pennsylvania street. 

This was back when 38th street was just two lanes and went by another name—Maple Road—because it was lined with Maple trees. 

Bill lived a few blocks away between Central and Washington on 37th street. There wasn’t a cafeteria in the school, so he would go home every day for lunch. Sometimes his group of friends would walk to the corner of College and 38th street to the old Ma-Co Building for sandwiches. 

The school had no air conditioning, and he never wore a uniform. His favorite teacher was Mrs. Klaber. He sold newspapers and laughed remembering the year they had a football team, called the “66 Warriors.” They played down the street at the State Fairgrounds. 

 

Celebrating Bill Browne: A Commitment to Coburn Place and his Neighborhood Legacy

A Presidential Visit 

In the late 30s, all the students and staff crowded outside the front of the school facing 38th street and waved as President Roosevelt drove by in a black car. Bill remembers him waving back. 

After Bill left school #66, he went on to Shortridge high school, graduating in 1945 and immediately went into the service. He was in Frankfort, Germany for a year, before heading home and straight back to his studies—this time at Purdue University. He met his wife, Jane, in Indianapolis and together they raised a family.

 

Keeping the legacy alive

With so much history surrounding this building, it was a natural fit for Nancy to come back to her dad’s school to give back in a different way. 

Nancy, a retired art teacher, facilitates frequent art classes with the kiddos in Children’s Services. She and her husband support Coburn Place through generous financial gifts. She volunteers with our friends and partners at School on Wheels to provide after school homework help and tutoring to school-aged children. She helps decorate and ready apartments for new families and individuals. 

She is working on a new project that would have adults and children at Coburn Place paint a ceiling tile before they move on to permanent housing, a new way to leave a lasting fingerprint on this historic building. 

 

Always a safe haven

Almost 80 years have passed since Bill attended school here, and nearly 24 years have passed since Coburn Place was born within its walls, but so much of the school in Bill’s memory remains the same. 

The hallways, the floors, the bricks that line the walls. The windows in every stairwell, letting in the light.  

The fact that it is still a safe space for those inside it. A place where children’s laughter echoes in all the corners. A place where people grow.  

 

If you went to school here and would like a tour (or would just like a tour in general!), or want to learn more about volunteering and donating, please email Julie Henson at julie@coburnplace.org to learn more.  

Celebrating Bill Browne: A Commitment to Coburn Place and his Neighborhood Legacy

Share This :