The Indiana Roof Ballroom, affectionately called the “Roof,” has been an important part of downtown Indianapolis since 1927 when it first opened it's doors. Located above the Indiana Repertory Theatre, it has hosted famous performers, big band dances, fundraisers, weddings and special events for nearly a century.
Dreamed up in 1926 by Edgar O. Hunter and Preston Rubush, the Roof first opened in September of 1927. Designed to appear as if you were in a European village, no detail was forgotten. Painted grapevines creep up plaster columns and the stucco facades, doorways and balconies contain exquisite details and even the staircase railings have ornate woodwork. The domed ceiling resembles a starry night sky, with soft clouds and a crescent moon.
The 8,700 square foot circular dance floor began with one small square in the center of the floor and from there, it was expanded with small boards to create the 100 foot wide floor that is still used today. The floor, which famous performer Lawrence Welk termed “the most comfortable dancing surface in the world,” due to two subfloors and a cushion layer, was well-used by people in the ‘30s and ’40s who came to enjoy big bands.
The big band era further customized the ballroom into what it is today. The Betsy Ross Candy Company added a sweet shop and soda fountain next to the stage for a unique touch and from 1931 to 1936, two employees rated the big band performers on a stage door; four stars, the highest rating, were for excellent performers. Cab Calloway and Jan Garber were among those to get four stars and the raters awarded themselves five stars each. The door remains in the ballroom today and is an important part of our history.
Visited by presidents and famous performers, the Roof has always been the place to be. Jazz singer/songwriter Hogie Carmichael came to the Roof every time we featured a new band, hoping to interest them in his songs.
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman enjoyed events held here, along with Sen. Robert Kennedy and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Margaret Thatcher and Bing Crosby were also frequent visitors of the Roof in days past.
The Roof continues to be the "place to be" in Indianapolis and we continue to host famous performers, actors and celebrities. We are honored to have been visited by the below list of guests:
Actors/Actresses: Audrey Hepburn, Cast of The Office, Don Johnson, James Earl Jones, Doris Day, Hoagie Carmichael, Jason Priestley, Joan Rivers, Mario Lopez, Mark Edwards, Melissa Joan Hart, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Dempsey, Paul Newman, Katharine McPhee, Danny DeVito, Carson Daley and Jane Krakowski
Musicians: Bing Crosby, Commodores, Cool and The Gang, Edwin McCain, Frank Sinatra, Gene Simmons, Harry Connick Jr., Jamie O’Neal, John Mellancamp, Kenny G., Ludacris, The Ohio Players, The Pointer Sisters, Tony Bennett, Jessica Simpson and Maroon 5
Politicians and Television Personalities: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell, Harry Truman, Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ann Curry, Al Roker and Brian Williams
Athletes: Danica Patrick, Florence Griffith Joyner, Helio Castroneves, Lance Armstrong, Peyton Manning and Reggie Miller