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This is the Riviera Club.
The Riviera Club is the premier private swimming club located in Indianapolis' Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.
Despite the affordable cost, not just anyone was allowed membership.
The unspoken rule was loud and clear — No Blacks. No Jews.
My Father's Family Could Walk to the Riviera, but were not allowed entry.
My dad, Lawrence Reuben, was barred from the Riviera because he was a Jew.
My Dad Was Left Behind.
While his friends would go inside, he could only walk to the front door.
Despite This, He Never Let Anyone Make Him Ashamed of Being a Jew.
So When He Became a Lawyer, He Knew What He Had To Do.
My father challenged the Riviera Club's racist and antisemitic policies.


The Riviera Club, founded on January 12, 1933, is one of Indianapolis’ most famous private swimming facilities. The designation as a private club ensured that members would only be surrounded by residents of the community they actively wanted to engage with. For some Hoosiers, like my Jewish father, membership was firmly denied.

Lawrence Reuben was, first and foremost, a proud Jew. His passion, however, was his career as a tough-as-nails attorney in which he sought opportunities to use the legal system as a form of activism. Even so, Lawrence, or Larry, was not always afforded the privilege to push back against injustice. He and his brother and sister had grown up only a couple of houses away from the elaborate swim club, and like many children living in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood during the 50s, they also wanted to swim at the facilities. But as my dad so eloquently put it, “Being Jewish wasn’t popular.”

In fact, the unspoken rule at the Riviera Club wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret: No Blacks. No Jews. The Riviera Club offered socialization and relaxation at an affordable price, that is, if you met the criteria for the Membership Board’s approval. Unfortunately, an overwhelming amount of acceptance letters were sent to all-white, Christian families, whereas families composed of religious and ethnic minorities were all too often rejected. Larry was not one to be pushed around. He dreamed of the day that the Riviera Club would become desegregated. That’s why when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped, becoming the lawyer leading the charge against the Riviera Club’s discriminatory membership policies.

This creative project serves to archive the Bates v. Riviera Club Inc. legal case, wherein my father, Larry Reuben, and many other brave individuals led the charge against racial injustice in Indianapolis’ Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.

Project news and updates

Poster for "Troubled Waters" documentary screening event at JCC Indianapolis with illustration of Riviera Club pool
May 7, 2023 – Documentary Premiere and Panel at the JCC Indianapolis –  The documentary “Troubled Waters: The Integration of the Riviera Club” will be screened on Sunday, May 7th at 2:00 p.m. at the JCC Indianapolis. Following the film, a panel will be held featuring filmmaker Emily Reuben, Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney, and current Riviera Club General Manager Jimm Moody. The panel will be moderated by Kent Newton, who was also involved with the Bates v. Riviera Club court case. A short Q&A session will follow the panel.

This is a free event!
Reserve your spot here: