04 Jan Logan Street Sanctuary
Getting up close and personal with the arts
John Gilmore is the Kevin Costner — think “Field of Dreams” — of Noblesville’s arts community, but instead of building a venue that lures ghosts of the past, Gilmore’s Logan Street Sanctuary draws performers, artists and audiences that are very much alive.
Tucked in between historic homes, the pale yellow building at 1274 Logan St. was originally built as an Army barracks in 1900 and was a Pentecostal Church for many years. Gilmore kept the pews to use for seating, and the simple rectangular space that once housed soldiers or worshipers, depending on the decade, still has a no-nonsense style.
The style fits what Logan Street Sanctuary is doing: offering a stage where singer-songwriters and artists of all stripes can share their art more intimately with a smaller audience.
“The nature of a concert hall like this is that I pick up bands that are between gigs and local folks who are trying to get established,” Gilmore says. “The thing we’ve marveled at is the caliber of performers we get here. I have never settled for mediocre. And they come from all over the world; I had three acts from Great Britain.”
With a short beard, ball cap and his signature T-shirt from the renowned but unfussy Station Inn in Nashville, Gilmore has become a welcome neighbor on the quiet brick street. It hasn’t taken long. He opened his doors in August 2013 after extensive renovations, and he continues to make improvements, recently adding an awning and offering an outdoor gallery space of sorts for artists such as Joanie Drizin. Inside, you’ll find more fine art for sale by local artists.
Since opening, Gilmore has become a key player in the downtown community, joining the Noblesville Preservation Alliance board and becoming an official Nickel Plate Arts partner.
Gilmore, who moved to Noblesville from Bloomington when he was in the seventh grade, wasn’t always in the music business, but he has always had music in his life. When he was no older than 12, he picked up his first guitar and started playing.
“I majored in truancy and spent more time on my guitar than I did studying,” he says. He preferred fingerpicking songs by Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, a fondness that has evolved but not changed completely. A singersongwriter himself, Gilmore names Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Steve Earle, Merle Haggard and Guy Clark among his favorites.
After high school, Gilmore got a job with the U.S. Postal Service, delivering mail for 25 years. Around 1990, he started playing in bluegrass bands in the Indianapolis area and continued writing his own songs, which he says isn’t too tough.
“You have to have a decent vocabulary and be able to string words together, paint pictures if you can without being too cliché,” he says.
These days, when he isn’t scheduling musicians and other artists for Logan Street Sanctuary, he and singing partner Kelli Yates and bass player Gary Wasson — under the band name Noble Roots — are playing stripped-down Americana songs on stages around Central Indiana.
Gilmore calls the Sanctuary an extension of that singing and songwriting hobby. Hallelujah to that.
Visit loganstreetsanctuary.org for more information.