Our history

The MLK Center in Indianapolis embraces the teachings and philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to help people of all ages find, and remain on, their own paths to success and stability. For 50 years, we’ve been building a foundation upon which our community can build, through investment in our youth and empowering families.

Since day one, we’ve provided a hub for our neighbors to gather, create, problem-solve, and interact with each other. The many locations the MLK Center has called home throughout our history have allowed us to become the heartbeat of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Since 2015, we’ve invested heavily in our current location and we continue to set courageous goals.

We invite you to join us in bringing even more people-centered experiences that inspire equity, unity and shared goals to our community for the next 50 years, and beyond.

Interactive Timeline

Take a look in to the history of the MLK Center

Left to Right: Charles Montgomery Sr. - Executive Director, Damon Roach, Mayor City of Indianapolis William H Hudnut III, Gene McFadden - Director of Community Services City of Indianapolis, Charles WIlliams - Special Assistant to the Mayor, Judge William Keithly - Chairman of the Board


Funding of $60,000 was raised through the City of Indianapolis Community Service Program in 1972 with Indianapolis Settlements being the fiscal agency.


Operations began at 4155 Boulevard Place in January 1973 as the Butler Tarkington Multi-Service Center.


We relocated to a converted house in Tarkington Park in 1977 at 3951 N Illinois.

Dorothy Unger - Executive Director Indianapolis Settlements, and members of the Board of Directors: Zenobia Green, Sue Lewis, Atty. Brenda Bowels, Doris Hicks Standing: Hugh Barfield, Charles Montgomery - Executive Director, Robert Riegel, James Payton, A.W. Hamilton, Judge William Keithly, Walter Smith, Joe Dietz, Jimmy Smith, Edward Vance, Joseph Carroll, Damon Roach, Al Ferguson, Tony Duncan


In 1981, we changed our name to the Martin Luther King Multi-Service Center and expanded the service area.


We purchased the building at 3909 N Meridian in 1984 for $275,000. The service area is broad and programming is open to all families.


We've been at our current location of 40 W 40th Street since 1997. Learn more about the history of Butler Tarkington neighborhood.


Our Board of Directors led a concerted effort to re-focus on our mission and spark new life and growth into the Center, after years of struggle and neglect. This “reset” laid the foundation for renewal.


Our first Tarkington Teen Work Crew began this summer.


The Best Buy Teen Tech Center opened, creating a dedicated high-tech, creative clubhouse space for teens in our community.


We completed phase one of our remodeling and expansion plans, investing $2 million to upgrade the current facilities and create more inviting spaces for community members to utilize in the Center.


The 40 West Digital video apprenticeship for 17-24 year olds launched.