Visitors who walk into the Greenwood Fieldhouse are greeted by photo murals honoring both the building’s past and the city school’s athletic history.
The Greenwood Fieldhouse, which opened in May, is a $9 million redevelopment project the city undertook to give the remaining building at the former Greenwood Middle School property new life. Other buildings at the site were demolished in 2019.
The 65,000-square-foot facility offers an elevated indoor running and walking track, batting cages, two multi-purpose turf fields for sports such as soccer or lacrosse, two gymnasiums with basketball or volleyball courts, three indoor pickleball courts and a golf simulator.
Just inside the main entrance of the fieldhouse, a recently-installed photo mural now lines the exterior of the elevator shaft. A few feet away, fieldhouse goers can enter the facility’s “bypass” hallway, which is lined with more photo murals. A photo mural also hangs above one of the main gyms of the facility.
The photos are from different decades of Greenwood’s history. Some are in black and white, others in color. All of the photos pay tribute to the fieldhouse’s, and Greenwood Community School Corporation’s athletics history, said Rob Taggart, parks and recreation director.
The city of Greenwood bought the former middle school property for $1.1 million in 2017, as part of the plan to spend money generated from the city’s central Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district. When the design of the renovated building began to evolve, officials knew that a corridor would be created to bypass the sports courts and the basketball court, so the idea of creating a photo mural came up, Taggart said.
“The way the architect designed (it), we had all these blank, kind of, canvas walls,” Taggart said. “We found our design committee team, internally, wanted to create a kind of a homage to all the former athletes that went through Greenwood School Corporation, and that’s how it came to light.”
The goal was for the photo murals to be ready by the time of the opening of the facility in May, however, there were some delays. The murals were completed and installed last month, he said.
About 150 photos were used throughout the murals, some dating back to the 1940s and as recently as this decade. All of the photos used were deliberate, and every photo used has something identifiable to Greenwood in the photo. These identifiers include the Greenwood athletics logo, Greenwood school colors, the word “Woodmen” and others, he said.
This was one of the most challenging parts, along with sourcing and finding the photos, Taggart said.
“Everything is referenced back to Greenwood, every photo that we used,” he said.
A few photos even have athletes wearing masks, time-stamping the photos to recent times. This was deliberate so that when people visit the fieldhouse a few decades from now, they can look back at what happened during the times of COVID-19, Taggart said.
Some of the photos include memorable Greenwood athletes, including local basketball great John Bass, who was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1941 and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. He was Greenwood’s first Mr. Basketball, Taggart said.
Another memorable moment captured in the mural is the Greenwood High School Football Team’s 2017 Class 4A sectional win, where the Woodmen defeated the Mooresville Pioneers 59-32.
The city tried to capture as many sports as possible in the mural, with the athletes from Greenwood schools’ basketball, football, cross country, track and field, baseball, softball and swimming and diving teams among those represented, Taggart said.
One of Taggart’s favorite parts about being able to incorporate the murals into the fieldhouse is the mix of generations in the photos.
“You can go to some very old, pixelated, black-and-white photos, and you can see the old style attire and uniforms (compared) to the present day,” he said. “I like that co-mingled mix and I think it pays (a) true tribute to what this facility was and what the Greenwood School Corporation means to the city.”
None of this would have been possible without the help of many photographers and contributors, including both Greenwood Schools and the Daily Journal, Taggart said. The Daily Journal and several of its former and current photographers and contributors helped supply photos for the mural, including Scott Roberson, Andy Costello, Steve McClure, Ken Severson, Chris Williams, Joe Saba, Spencer Moore, Chris Meyer and Gentry Appleget. Photos from Mike Wolanin, a photographer with The Republic, the Daily Journal’s sister paper in Columbus, were also used.
The Johnson County Museum of History and the Greenwood High School Yearbook Staff also contributed to the project. All of the contributors are listed on a commemorative plaque in the bypass hallway, he said.
Also, there is always the possibility for the photo murals to be expanded into other parts of the building, Taggart said.
“I think there are areas to expand possibly within the facility or some other places we can do that we can identify for (something) like that,” he said.
Since the murals have been installed, members of the public have expressed support for murals and many people have stopped by the fieldhouse to check them out, Taggart said. He encourages other members of the public to stop by and check it out as well.
It’s another piece of Greenwood history, he said.
“Just check it out. I think, with the building itself as well, and then maintaining the brick and the facade and the old wooden floor, this is just another piece of a Greenwood relic and history towards athletics that we wanted to pay tribute to with the new fieldhouse,” Taggart said.