William H. Hudnut III (October 17, 1932 - December 17, 2016) was the longest serving mayor in Indianapolis. The only mayor to serve more than two terms, Hudnut was elected to the office four times, serving from 1976-1992. The late 1970s and 1980s were a time of change for many cities, and Indianapolis was no exception. During his tenure, Bill Hudnut is credited with turning Indianapolis from a sleepy "Naptown" or "India-No-place" to a major city, all during a time when many other Midwestern cities were on the decline. Our William Hudnut Digital Collection is the largest repository of its kind. We culled the tens of thousands of items to share our most treasured highlight. We hope you enjoy our tribute to Bill Hudnut's life and legacy in Indianapolis. Click start to learn more.
Bill Hudnut was born on October 17, 1932 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated from Princeton University in 1954 and would go on to earn a Master's Degree in Theology from the Union Theological Seminary. Like his father and grandfather before him, Bill Hudnut became an ordained minister of the Presbyterian church in 1957. He served churches in Buffalo, NY and Annapolis, MD before becoming senior pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis in 1964.
Leaving his congregation after 8 years, Bill Hudnut began his political career in 1972 when he ran for Congress from Indiana's 11th congressional district. Hudnut defeated future congressman Dan Burton in the Republican primary and then beat four-term Democratic Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr. in the general election.
Representative Hudnut served one term in Congress, from 1973-1975. While there, he sponsored seventeen bills that would became law and worked tirelessly for the people of Indiana. Listen below as Hudnut speaks about sponsoring legislation to hold the line on government spending.
In this audio clip from 1974, Bill Hudnut discusses his position on the campaign issues most important to Indiana's 11th congressional district.
After serving one term in Congress, Hudnut ran for reelection in 1974. Swept up in the backlash against Republicans after the Watergate scandal, however, he lost to his predecessor Andrew Jacobs, Jr.
Not to be deterred by his failed Congressional reelection campaign, Bill Hudnut ran for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1975. Hudnut won the election in '75 and would go on to be reelected to three succeeding terms in 1979, 1983, and 1987, becoming the longest serving Mayor in the history of Indianapolis.
The Indiana Pacers were part of the American Basketball Association (ABA) from 1967-1976, holding the title of most successful team in ABA history. In 1976, the Pacers were one of four ABA teams that joined the NBA in the ABA-NBA merger. In the press conference audio here, Mayor Hudnut announces that the Pacers have been invited to join the NBA.
A sportsman himself, Mayor Hudnut was known to shoot some hoops for Pacers promotions or just for fun! An avid tennis player, Hudnut even hosted and participated in a Mayor's Celebrity Tennis Day.
One of the major ways Mayor Bill and the city leadership sought to change the image of Indianapolis was through an emphasis on amateur sports, and Indianapolis became known as the Amateur Sports Capital of the World. On the next slide, you can view a promotional video about Indianapolis hosting the 1987 Pan American Games.
Major amateur sporting events such as the 1987 Pan American Games and the 1982 National Sports Festival were held in Indianapolis. In 1991, at the end of Hudnut's time as Mayor, the city would host both the NCAA Final Four and the World Gymnastics Championship. Mayor Hudnut also formed the Indiana Sports Corporation, which directed the building of sports projects like the Indianapolis Tennis Center, the Major Taylor Velodrome, and the IUPUI Natatorium.
Perhaps one of Mayor Hudnut's best known achievements is building the Hoosier Dome (later called the RCA Dome) and bringing the then Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. Construction on the Dome began in April 1982. The project ultimately cost approximately $80 million, financed through private and public means, including donations, private investments, a one percent tax on restaurant and bar sales, and sales of revenue bonds. The Hoosier Dome was completed in 1984, but still needed a team!
Mayor Hudnut began to secretly negotiate with Colts owner Robert Irsay to move the team from Baltimore to Indianapolis. In the middle of the night on March 29, 1984 the Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis, a day Mayor Hudnut described as "one of the greatest days in the history of this city."
Mayor Hudnut presents a key to the city to Muhammad Ali at an Indiana Black Expo lunch at the Indiana Convention Center on July 17, 1987.
While the city government celebrated these gains, the Reagan Justice Department filed a motion against the affirmative action hiring policies. Rather than roll over and change the policies, the Hudnut administration doubled down on their policies and fought the justice department and won!
The Hudnut years saw the Indianapolis Zoo move from its original location on East 30th St. to its current home at White River State Park. The groundbreaking for the new location (pictured here) took place on September 8, 1985, with the new zoo officially opening in 1988.
Not a stuffy Mayor who kept to his offices, Mayor Hudnut was often seen out and about in the city. Whether it was helping to fill chuckholes or dressing as a leprechaun for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade, Bill Hudnut was a mayor that liked to see and be seen by the people.
Mayor Hudnut and unidentified children play at a Fire/Parks Department "sprinkle shower" party at a city park in 1983.
Bill Hudnut was married three times. He and his first wife, Anne Goodyear, had 5 children before their divorce in 1974. Here, Mayor Hudnut is pictured with his five children. The then-Congressman Hudnut married his second wife, Susan Greer Rice, in 1974. They divorced in 1988. In 1989, Mayor Hudnut married his third wife, Beverly Guidara, who had previously served as his press secretary. Bill and Beverly would have one son of their own and were together until Bill's death in 2016.