About Hanna Community Center


Hanna's History
The Hanna Community Center, Inc, located at 2000 Elmwood Ave., Ste A in Lafayette, IN is a non-profit, multi-service agency which provides programs and services for the Hanna neighborhood and all residents of Tippecanoe County; however the roots of Hanna Community Center are inextricably tied to the history of Lincoln School located at the intersection of Salem and 14th streets.

The first Lincoln School for blacks in Lafayette was built in 1886 and was located near the present building. Blacks moved near old Lincoln School in sufficient numbers to necessitate a large building in 1923 and the present Lincoln School was erected.

Lincoln school doubled as a recreational center and school for blacks in its early years because established public and private recreational centers were segregated. This segregation of public and private recreational centers was a major reason that led to the establishment of a community center that blacks could use. This need for social and recreational outlets in the black community prompted a group of blacks to form the Lafayette Negro Center, Inc. (LNC). Purposes for forming LNC were to purchase land and erect a recreational and activities facility to, "...be used and set apart for educational, literary, scientific and charitable purposes., for the uplift and betterment of the Negro race..."(taken from the Lafayette Negro Center, Inc. Articles of Incorporation-August 1940).

To accomplish this, the LNC bought the land at 18th and Hanna Streets in the early 1940's with monies from barbecues, sales of paper flowers, and with money donated by Eleanor Baird; however, further funding for a community center was years away. Lincoln School Community Center was formally founded in 1943. Many activities were held in the building after school and on weekends until 1966 when space requirements forced Lincoln Center to move to larger facilities at the former Seventh Day Adventist Church Building at 803 North 8th Street. This building served as a community center until 1974 when fire destroyed the building.

Lincoln Center moved to various locations in the early 1970's including the Southside Community Center and became part of an organization known as the Greater Lafayette Community Centers (GLCC). In 1978 Lincoln Center relocated in houses at 1801-1813 Hanna Street on land originally purchased by the LNC across from Hanna Park and became known as Hanna Community Center. There were also various attempts to purchase the Lincoln School, but all attempts were turned down.

In the mid 1970's federal and Community Development monies were earmarked for park and community facility upgrading and construction. To receive these monies, the center's grounds needed to be donated to the city and the LNC needed to be rechartered. The newly rechartered LNC requested and received monies through the efforts of Mayor James Riehle, his staff and the City of Lafayette for a community center and a daycare facility (the original childcare facility housed at Second Baptist Church on Hartford Street merged in 1976 with the Lafayette Day Care Center to become Tippecanoe Child Care Centers, Inc,a.k.a TCCC).

The Black neighborhood around St. Elizabeth Hospital and Hanna Park was also affected by the hospital's expansion activities. On one hand, this expansion allowed many black families to purchase better homes in other parts of the city; however, in doing so, a recognizable, cohesive black neighborhood was decimated.

Various legal entanglements delayed the development of Hanna Park and the community center. The newly rechartered LNC merged with the Northside Neighborhood Council and became the Hanna Community Council, Inc. The GLCC relationship was dissolved. It was under the direction of the Hanna Council that the construction of Hanna Community Center located at 1801-1813 became a reality. In 1982, the newly constructed Hanna Community Center opened its doors to the public.

The 99 year lease with the City of Lafayette designates the purpose of Hanna Community Center is to "provide for the operation of a community center for the benefit of the public, including residents of the neighborhood surrounding the leased premises, and to ensure that health, social, recreational, or similar community services are provided..." The lease states that..."Lessee shall not charge any fee in excess of that needed to cover operating expenses or any fee that would preclude lower to moderate income persons from using the premises or from participating in activities on the premises."

The effect of years of delays in construction and subsequent inflation was reflected in the resultant size of the facility. Most noticeable was the loss of a gymnasium, daycare area and meeting rooms; however, the enthusiasm for serving the community did not diminish. This new center was to serve the entire community both black and white demonstrating that through mutual respect, cooperation and unity, the Hanna community could be a model community in Lafayette.

The Dennis Burton Child Care Center of Tippecanoe Child Care, Inc. was finally constructed with federal and community funds on the Hanna Site in 1989-90. Having daycare and the community center on the same site is the culmination of a dream first envisioned nearly 50 years earlier.

Hanna Center was born out of desperation of the past to become the dream of the future; however that dream has yet to be fulfilled. Many activities and programs still suffer, or do not exist, due to lack of functional space and limited monetary resources.

From Lincoln to Hanna...Celebrating 70 years of service to the Lafayette Community