In the late 1920s, local entrepreneur William C. Griffith and his wife Ruth (Perry) Griffith acquired the Denison Hotel at the corner of Ohio and Pennsylvania streets in downtown Indianapolis. They later developed the hotel into Denison Service Parking named after the old hotel.

Bird's-eye view of Denison Parking Garage. The single-story building has rounded corners. On top of one corner is a vertical sign with the name on it. Behind the building is car service building with a parking lot.
Bird’s-eye view photo of Denison Parking Garage, 1934 Credit: The Indiana Album: Ray Hinz Collection View Source

William C. Griffith noted the increased activity in the growing downtown Indianapolis commercial area. More importantly, he understood that the newly invented automobile and its affordability to a certain class drove more people to the city center. The increased activity brought Griffith’s attention to the shortage of parking options. In 1933, Griffith made the decision to raze most of the Denison Hotel to develop one of the United States’ first single-story paid parking facilities. Architects Pierre And Wright designed phase one of the parking facility which included a garage, filling station, and car wash.

Griffith’s innovation continued when he replaced the Denison parking garage with the city’s first self-parking garage in 1954. This structure became only the fifth such garage in the nation. Its cast-in-place (construction technology where walls and slabs are cast on-site rather than off-site, thus eliminating transportation and assembly costs of walls and slabs from the off-site to the construction site) continuous ramp parking garage for 650 made the facility truly innovative. However, the seven-story garage was demolished in 1986 to make way for the 31-story First Indiana Tower.

Exterior view of a five-story concrete parking garage.
Denison parking garage, 1957 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

By the 2000s, Denison Parking owned and managed more than 40 parking facilities in Indianapolis. Yet the third-generation CEO/owner of Denison Parking, Perry Griffith, aimed to grow outside the local market. This became possible in 2003 when the company contracted with the Simon Property Group to manage the Simon malls’ parking facilities around the nation, a role Denison already maintained locally.

In the early 2000s, Mark Pratt joined the company as president. Keeping in line with Denison’s innovative legacy, Pratt developed and patented a unique audio/video system that allowed parkers to interact with a customer service representative. The remote video communications system allows parkers to deal with routine problems, such as lost parking garage tickets.

A man stands in front of a small booth which has "Stop of Ticket before Parking" on it.
Denison parking garage entrance and ticket attendant, 1957 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Pratt worked closely with CEO Griffith expanding Denison to 10 new markets and doubling the size of the company. The decade of expansion culminated in 2009 when Denison landed a $1.52 million contract to manage visitor parking at Hoover Dam, with a five-year contract potential valued at $7.2 million. Locally, Denison continued to flourish, expanding to 54 parking structures and snagging operations of Indianapolis’ parking meter system with two partners, Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Systems and Indianapolis-based Evens Time, Incorporated.

In September 2012 Griffith transitioned out of his role to make room for Pratt as President/CEO of Denison Parking. Griffith remained at Denison as board chair.

Pratt remained with Denison until April 2017. Jeff Line succeeded Pratt and spearheaded Denison’s growth and expansion in the post-Pratt years. Under Line’s watch, Denison acquired local valet parking company SOPHI Global LLC in January 2019 and local competitor EZ Park in January 2020. One month later, Line assumed the role of COO, giving way to Perry Griffith III as Denison’s president/CEO.

At the time Griffith III assumed leadership of the company, Denison Parking operated over 70,000 parking structures across the country and 69 in Indianapolis. In addition to parking services, Denison offers maintenance and shuttle services to its parking garage patrons.

Revised June 2021

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