The Indianapolis Department of Public Works announced it has received a $15 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help fund architecturally significant design elements and enhancements to the future Henry Street Bridge.

The construction of the Henry Street Bridge originates from an agreement between the city, the state and Elanco that calls for the city to build out the infrastructure supporting the animal health company’s new global headquarters on the west side of the White River.

In March, Lilly Endowment approved a $15 million grant to enable the construction of the Henry Street Bridge to include the Circle City Gateway design that was presented to the public in May 2023 following an extensive public input process. The design includes architecturally significant elements such as 80-foot rings with programmable lighting that encircle the bridge, plazas that provide spaces for people to gather and view public art, and distinctive plantings and other horticultural features.

“Earlier this year, Lilly Endowment was informed that the city no longer had sufficient funding to build the version of the Henry Street Bridge that had been presented to the public,” said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development. “Given the historic expansion and redevelopment of the southwest quadrant of downtown Indianapolis, we at Lilly Endowment were compelled to help ensure that the bridge is constructed in a manner that distinguishes Indianapolis’ skyline and serves as a cultural amenity to benefit broad and diverse audiences.”

For more than a year, city officials have been meeting with community members regarding the Henry Street Bridge and an adjacent roadway project, which occupies a one-acre portion of the city’s first cemetery, a collection of four long-abandoned cemeteries that are often referred to collectively as Greenlawn Cemetery. Despite 100+ years of previous development on the site, many gravesites are believed to be buried under concrete and additional soil that was imported for previous development projects.

“Earlier this year, a consortium of community stakeholders, including the city, approached Lilly Endowment to seek funding that would enable the city to preserve the enhanced, architecturally significant plan for the bridge without sacrificing thorough archaeology of the site,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “We are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s support, which is specifically and exclusively for the enhanced design of the Henry Street Bridge.”

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick will also expand as part of the construction of the Henry Street Bridge and other adjacent developments, connecting The Valley and near Westside to downtown and improving access to the cultural and recreational attractions within White River State Park.

“This new bridge is the only place the Cultural Trail crosses the White River and we want to provide a place for people to engage with and experience the river in a beautiful and accessible setting on the Trail,” said Kären Haley, executive director for Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. “The architecturally significant bridge will help make the White River expansion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail a destination in itself and we thank Lilly Endowment for making this possible.”