The Vollrath, Indianapolis: History, Music and Beer

Bras.  Some big, others small, and most of them ratty.  As I walked in, the first things I noticed were the ladies’ garments hanging from the ceiling. However, I thought, this place is home to the daily $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon, one of my favorite crisp, everyday lagers; that alone gives the Vollrath every right to hang dusty bras from its ceiling.

The Vollrath Tavern

The Vollrath Tavern closed its doors in October. (This picture is borrowed from an blog.)

Since 1926, the bar known as the Vollrath has been slinging drinks and supporting live, original music in the historic Indianapolis neighborhood of Sacred Heart.

When I took a seat at the bar, I felt the ornate wood in front of me and knew it was the original.  It was the place where infamous American gangsters like John Dillinger sat, seeking solace during Prohibition when the establishment served as a speakeasy.

The Vollrath's bar

Dark, divey, smokey and a little musty, the Vollrath hosts eclectic lineups of local and national touring bands many nights a week.  One thing it always promises is a very mixed crowd, from old bikers to young hipsters to metal-heads with technicolored hair and mohawks.  Despite the diversity, like any other Midwestern gathering, there is never a shortage of conversation at the Vollrath.

A few days later, feeling nostalgic after Sunday morning mass, I took a drive by my grandmother’s old house and through the old neighborhood, a place I spent years of my childhood.  As I rounded one of the very familiar corners I had once maneuvered as a little girl on a bike, there stood that old Brooklyn-styled tavern.

Unsure why, I became very bewildered, almost frightened.  I could hear kids yelling and having bike races past this old building, never knowing, paying attention or caring what it was.

How could that place that was once just a huge, brick building–very often “home base” in a game of hide-and-seek–now be the place where I, at 22 years old, go to drink beer and watch my fiancé’s band perform?

Everything looks different during the day. And the building you thought was empty and abandoned as a child just may house a cool music venue with bedraggled bras hanging from the ceiling.


I was shocked and saddened to hear that the Vollrath closed its doors about a month ago. I wrote this for my feature writing class back in August as part of an exercise.  I only had the opportunity to hang out there twice, but I loved it and its atmosphere.
I hope at least a couple of you out there enjoyed my nostalgia!

About teresatatum

USC Trojan ✌. Music enthusiast. Education proponent. Sports fanatic.
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