The Stutz Business and Art Center began as the factory for the Stutz Motor Car Company, located at 10th Street and Capitol Avenue (221 East 10th Street) and established by Harry C. Stutz (1876-1935). The initial plant opened in 1914. One of the early models, the Stutz Bearcat, became so popular that the factory had to be expanded twice, eventually covering most of the entire block between the 10th  and 11th streets. It consisted of five, four-story buildings, all connected by bridges, and a one-story machine shop structure.

Stutz Motor Co., 1916
Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society

The new cars were put together on assembly lines, painted, and inspected. Eight freight elevators carried the finished automobiles to the first floor for shipment. The Great Depression shattered the market for cars that were not mass-produced, like the Stutz models. The last car was manufactured in 1934, and the company closed in 1937.

In 1940, Eli Lilly And Company purchased the Stutz factory buildings to establish its “Creative Packaging” division. The packaging division remained until 1982. The factory was then vacant for a decade.

In 1993, Turner Woodard, an adaptive-reuse real estate developer and Stutz collector, converted the building into rental spaces for small business and manufacturing tenants. Artists soon followed.

Established in 1996, the Stutz Artists Association is an important tenant. The organization is a nonprofit organization of artists who work in the Stutz buildings. Nearly 90 artists occupy studio space. They include painters of all styles, sculptors, fiber artists, jewelers, photographers, printmakers, muralists, and furniture makers. The organization engages the Central Indiana community to support local art and artists. It holds an annual studio open house, a holiday show, and participates in the Penrod Arts Fair (see Penrod Society). The association also sponsors an artist residency program.

At its peak in 2004, the Stutz Business and Art Center was home to more than 150 tenants. In addition to artists, engineering firms, architects, and the Stutz Artists Association, other small- to mid-sized Indianapolis businesses carried on the entrepreneurial spirit in the building.

In February 2021, Turner Woodard sold a majority ownership stake to out-of-state real estate firm SomeraRoad, which specializes in building restoration and modernization. Its plan called for preservation of the Stutz Building’s cultural heritage and history while updating the factory with modern features and amenities, including retail and dining space, coworking space, event space, and fitness and lifestyle space.

The seven Stutz buildings were collectively rebranded as The Stutz in 2022. A 12-tenant roster for the first floor was announced in August 2022. The first public event at the newly named facility took place September 1-4, 2022 with the Butter Art Fair organized by local cultural development firm GangGang. The vibrant mix of street-level tenants should be open for business in March 2023

The first street-level tenant, a museum dedicated to minorty-stakeholder Woodward’s automobile collection is slated to open in October 2022. Woodward’s collection contains Stutz vehicles that represent the early automobile company’s complete line of motorcars.

Revised March 2021
 

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