There was nothing organic about the founding of Indianapolis. In 1820 the legislature in the original capital at Corydon appointed ten commissioners to select a site for a new capital. They mounted their horses and rode out to the geographic center of the new state of Indiana and designated a swampy spot along the White River to be “Indianapolis.” Surveyor E.P. Fordham laid out a square mile plot of land and Alexander Ralston, who had worked on laying out the streets of the first swamp-turned-city, Washington, D.C, three decades earlier, created the street grid. Ralston’s plan called for a central circle that the governor would live in and an expensive mansion was constructed in 1827 but having the state’s chief executive live smack in the middle of town did not prove practical. No governor ever moved in and the mansion was torn down in 1857. A soaring 284-foot limestone and bronze monument to Indiana’s Civil War veterans was placed on the site in 1901 and has been the center of town ever since.
Indianapolis would grow to become the country’s largest city not on a navigable river but transportation would prove a key to the town’s identity. The National Road began heading west from the Potomac River in Cumberland, Maryland in 1811 and reached Indianapolis in 1830. The railroad arrived in the 1840s and there were so many that the first “union” station in the world was conceived here. America’s first beltway was created when railroad tracks were laid around the town. Indianapolis became the major transportation center in the state that fancies itself “The Crossroads of America.”
With the advent of the automobile Indianapolis staked its claim as the car capital of the world. The nameplates of Dusenberg, Marmon and Stutz were as well known in the early 1900s as Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler are today. Eventually the town’s remoteness from the supply of raw materials left the playing field to Detroit but the town’s automobile legacy was immortalized in 1911 with the building of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first 500-mile auto race was won by the Marmon, an Indianapolis-built car.
In 1919 the city successfully lobbied Congress to become the home of the newly created American Legion, mostly due to its central location. Five blocks of open space were created and our walking tour will begin at its center...
bounded by Michigan, Pennsylvania, North, and Meridian streets
The 100-foot shaft of black Berwick granite was placed in the center of the Memorial Plaza in 1929. The base of the memorial has a fountain basin of Georgia marble. Henry Hering designed the bronze relief panels that represent the four fundamentals on which the nation’s hopes are founded: law, science, religion, and education. The pinnacle of the obelisk is covered with gold leaf.
WALK OVER TO THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF THE SQUARE AT NORTH AND MERIDIAN STREETS. CROSS INTO THE NEXT SQUARE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THE TOWN’S FINEST ARCHITECTURAL TREASURES.
Scottish Rite Cathedral
650 North Meridian
Designed by architect George F. Schreiber, the Cathedral is the largest Masonic building in Freemasonry. Awash in pointed arches and ribbed vaulting, the Cathedral is hailed as one of the finest extant examples of Neo-Gothic architecture. The main tower rises 212 feet and contains a 54-bell carillon. The facility includes a floating ballroom and an auditorium with 1,200 seats. The main entrance, known as the Tiler’s Room, is a cube of 33 feet - the degrees a member of the Scottish Rite can achieve. Schreiber designed every dimension in the building to be divisible by 33. Built between 1927 and 1929, the price tag for the Cathedral was $2.5 million.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO THE OBELISK AND WALK TO THE SOUTH END OF OBELISK SQUARE AT MICHIGAN STREET.
Indiana World War Memorial Building
bounded by Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Meridian streets
The five-city-block plaza was conceived in 1919 as a location for the national headquarters of the American Legion and a memorial to the state’s and nation’s veterans. The centerpiece is the Indiana World War Memorial that was modeled on the Tomb of Mausolos, a Persian king, that was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The cubical plinth is plopped on a high base approached by grand stairways on the north and south, guarded by shield-bearing limestone lions. The pyramidal roof is stepped and has a lantern on top. General John Pershing laid the cornerstone of the memorial to those who served in the first World War on July 4, 1927, but funding problems delayed dedication until Veterans Day 1933.
TURN LEFT ON MICHIGAN STREET AND WALK EAST (THE WAR MEMORIAL IS ON YOUR RIGHT).
221 East Michigan Street
In 1904 the Indianapolis City Council passed an ordinance outlawing frame buildings in downtown. After that most multi-family residential properties were constructed on a smaller scale with the more expensive brick and limestone. A few developers could afford to be more ambitious and such was the case with the Dartmouth in 1930. The bricks were arranged in the English Tudor Revival style that was more commonly seen in single family residences.
Old National Centre (Murat Shrine)
502 North New Jersey Street at northwest corner of Michigan Street
John Tomlinson Brush, an early sports executive who eventually owned baseball’s New York Giants, was the driving force among five Freemasons who obtained the charter for the Indianapolis Shriners in 1884. The Murat Temple, which takes its name from a French general during Napoleon’s general in his Egyptian campaign, was built in 1909 on plans drawn by Murat Shriner Oscar D. Bohlen, with Middle-eastern and Egyptian stylings. Bohlen outfitted the block-swallowing structure with copper roofs, minuets, stained glass and giant towers. The building is peppered with event halls and theaters in what is the largest Shrine temple in North America.
401 East Michigan Street at southeast corner of New Jersey Street
This was Das Deutsche Haus when it was constructed in 1894 and stands as the most ornate souvenir of the city’s German-American community. German American architects Bernard Vonnegut and Arthur Bohn designed the original wings for the building that provided facilities for various German societies and organizations. The East Wing was fashioned in a German Romanesque style with an entrance flanked by a pair of Doric columns and bullseye windows. The West Wing incorporates a German Renaissance Revival style with Baroque elements. The heritage building includes the Rathskeller Restaurant that is the oldest eatery in the city.
TURN RIGHT ON NEW JERSEY AVENUE.
Saint Mary Catholic Church
311 North New Jersey Street at southeast corner of Vermont Street
The church was established in 1858 as St. Marienkirche to serve the growing population of German Catholics who were making their home in Indianapolis. Architect Hermann Gaul designed the current church in 1912 in the image of the cathedral in his native Cologne, Germany. Gargoyles decorate the façade of the church at the entry portal and towers.
Sears Roebuck & Company
333 North Alabama Street at southeast corner of Vermont Street
This large building of buff brick trimmed in limestone was constructed in 1929 and operated during a time when Sears Roebuck & Company was the most powerful retailer in the world. Sears & Roebuck had the most stores and the most customers in America. The company was the biggest publisher in the country. They shipped enough catalogs to fill a train of boxcars 30 miles long. One out approximately every 200 American workers worked for Sears; 700 were employed here. The Sears store closed its operations here in 1983.
AT THE SIX-WAY INTERSECTION TAKE THE SECOND LEFT AND WALK DOWN THE ANGLED MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE.
301 Massachusetts Avenue at New York Street
With the prominent diagonal streets slicing through the Indianapolis street grid it creates odd-shaped lot at intersections, a problem developers over came with wedge-shaped buildings that came to be known as “flatirons.” The Hammond Block survives as one of the town’s best examples of the form. Rezin R. Hammond raised the three-story brick building in 1874 as the block was developing into a new shopping district. Fashioned in the Italianate style, the building boasts cast iron window hoods and ornate cornice.
TURN LEFT ON NEW YORK STREET. TURN RIGHT ON ALABAMA STREET.
Old Indianapolis City Hall
208 North Alabama Street
City offices were scattered across the town until 1910 when they were brought under one roof in this monumental government temple. Indianapolis architects Rubush and Hunter provided the Neoclassical design, banding the limestone-faced building with engaged Doric columns two stories high. They filled the four-story City Hall with marble-inlaid halls and lobbies, murals, mahogany woodwork and a huge rotunda illuminated by a skylight made of stained glass. The city government moved on in 1962 and the building did duty as the Indiana State Museum from 1967 until 2002 and housed the library on a temporary basis but has laid fallow since 2007.
TURN RIGHT ON MARKET STREET.
222 East Market Street
In his plan for the city, Alexander Ralston set aside this space for a market. Over the years wooden sheds for local farmers were set up here and in 1886 this brick market building was constructed. Architects D.A. Bohlen & Son gave the building a round arched German utilitarian style called Rundbogenstil. The interior was crafted with iron columns and trusses to create a large free span for the market stalls.
Fidelity Trust Building
148 East Market Street
This heritage skyscraper, emblematic of the Chicago Style, was designed in 1915 by architects Rubush & Hunter who were responsible for much of the look of early 20th century Indianapolis. The eight story white tower is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fletcher Trust Building
10 East Market Street at northwest corner of Pennsylvania Street
Calvin Fletcher, who was born in Vermont in 1798, was the first Fletcher to settle in Indianapolis. He arrived in 1826 armed with little more than a law degree and became one of the largest landowners in Marion County. His brother Stoughton arrived in 1831 and opened Fletcher’s Bank in a one-room office with $3,000 of capital. In 1916 Fletcher Trust built the tallest building in the city. Architect Electus D. Litchfield of New York City originally won the design competition for the building, but was later replaced by local architect Arthur Bohn of Vonnegut & Bohn, who supervised design and construction work for the Chicago firm Holabird & Roche. The Neoclassical structure approaches its centennial as a hotel.
AT MONUMENT CIRCLE WALK INTO THE CENTER.
Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument
After twelve years of construction the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument to the memory of Indiana’s Civil War veterans was dedicated on May 15, 1902. German architect Bruno Schmitz won an international competition to design the monument with a blend of Egyptian obelisk, classical sculpture and Baroque fountains. The 285-foot monument is surrounded by allegorical sculpture groups and bronze statues of four wartime leaders: George Rogers Clark, military conqueror of the Old Northwest; William Henry Harrison, first governor of the Indiana Territory and general during the War of 1812; James Whitcomb, governor of Indiana during the Mexican-American War; and Oliver Morton, governor during the Civil War.
AT MONUMENT CIRCLE WALK INTO THE CENTER. IN THE CIRCLE WALK AROUND COUNTERCLOCKWISE, TO YOUR RIGHT.
The Columbia Club
121 Monument Circle
The Columbia Club organized in 1888 to support the candidacy of Indiana Senator Benjamin Russell in his successful run for the United States presidency. The club stayed together after the election and became the gathering spot of choice for the state’s Republicans. In 1924 the club hired go-to Indianapolis architects Rubush & Hunter to design a new clubhouse. Taking advantage of revised municipal codes that allowed buildings on Monument Circle to go up to 13 floors if a mansard roof was used, the architects were able to include guest hotel lodging, dining rooms, meeting rooms, reading areas, and club offices in their Gothic and Renaissance-flavored structure. A multi-story oriel window dominates the Circle-facing facade and architectural sculptor Alexander Sangernebo provided the classical limestone carvings.
Christ Church Cathedral
131 Monument Circle
Monument Circle was ringed with churches 150 years ago and this is the only one remaining. The Episcopalians built a meetinghouse on this spot in 1838 and the current building dates to 1857. Irish immigrant William Tinsley designed the core of the Early Gothic church; the spire was a later addition. Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest religious building in continuous use in Indianapolis.
111 Monument Circle
Of the 40 tallest buildings in Indiana 34 are in Indianapolis and this is the reigning Sky King. The roof of the Chase Tower is 700 feet above the concrete and its twin spires soar another 130 feet. The project was conceived in the 1970s as headquarters for the state’s largest financial institution, American Fletcher National Bank and Trust Company but the bank was sold in 1986 before ground was broken on the tower. Since its completion in 1990 several more bank acquisitions have occurred and currently the music has stopped with J.P. Morgan Chase in the space.
54 Monument Circle
Charles Edward Test was born in Richmond, Indiana on Christmas Day 1856 and grew up with a fascination for machinery. In 1891 he helped organize the Indianapolis Chain Works to manufacture bicycle chains that had previously needed to be imported from England. When Test and partner Arthur C. Newby grew dubious about the future of the bicycle they formed the National Motor Vehicle Company in 1900, joining hundreds of other American mechanics in the manufacture of early automobiles. National produced an electric vehicle, a runabout with tiller steering called the Style A, in 1900. Charles Test died in 1910, suffering from Bright’s Disease; the company would make cars until 1924 and eventually be acquired by Walter Chrysler. With automotive blood cursing through their veins the Test heirs set out to construct one of the earliest parking garages in Indianapolis in 1923. The ten-story mixed use building featured six floors of parking spaces in the middle with commercial spaces below and offices above. The building could handle 200 automobiles and contained two-thirds of all parking spaces in the heart of downtown 20 years after it was built.
Hilbert Circle Theatre
45 Monument Circle
The Circle Theatre opened as the town’s premier movie palace in 1916 with enough seating for 2,712 patrons, showing both silent films and live performances. Architects Preston Rubush and Edgar Hunter executed their Neoclassical design in glazed white terra cotta. In 1928 the world’s first “talkie” was screened here with Al Jolson starring in the Jazz Singer. The Circle followed a typical arc of decline and deterioration in the 1970s until the space was remodeled as a concert hall for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The performance venue was reconfigured with a thousand less seats and space for an 87-member ensemble.
55 Monument Circle
This Art Deco pile has been the tallest building on Monument Circle since 1930. Prominent local architects Preston C. Rubush and Edgar O. Hunter designed the office building with a series of stepped back floors above the tenth story so as to cast a less intrusive shadow on the Circle. Crowning the Circle Tower area are a series of capital blocks carved with stylized foliate panels while design elements on the entrances reflect an interest in Egyptology at the time. Joseph Willenborg sculpted the hieroglyphic-like images that adorn the bronze grilles. Known as “the Aristocrat,” it was billed as the most modern office building in the state when it opened.
WALK BACK A FEW STEPS AND TURN LEFT TO EXIT THE CIRCLE SOUTH ON MERIDIAN STREET.
20 North Meridian Street at Monument Circle
Another contribution on the Circle from Rubush and Hunter, this was the first building to go up against the 1905 “Shadow Law” that mandated no building be higher than the Monument itself. The law was changed in 1922.
H.P. Wasson Building
2 West Washington Street at northwest corner of Meridian Street
Hiram P. Wasson bought into the Bee Hive Dry Goods in 1874 and nine years later became the sole owner. Hiram died in 1910 and his son two years later and the family sold the building. Wasson’s trundled on, eventually expanding into a seven-store chain. A new nine-story flagship store was constructed on this corner in 1937. Preston C. Rubush and Edgar O. Hunter produced a dramatic Art Moderne structure that kept windows at a minimum with the advent of air conditioning and fluorescent lighting. Wasson’s was acquired by Goldblatt’s of Chicago in 1967 but only lasted a dozen more years.
Lyman S. Ayres Department Store
1 West Washington Street at southwest corner of Meridian Street
Lyman S. Ayres was born in upstate New York in 1824 and got into retailing at an early age. He opened a series of stores across frontier Ohio, shuttling in goods from New York. In 1874 he was running a store in Indianapolis. Under the guidance of his son Frederic after 1896 L.S. Ayres & Company evolved into the town’s premier department store. This landmark store was built in 1905. Originally eight stories tall, the building was expanded several times as Ayres opened branches in other markets and became the largest retailer in Indiana. The company was sold in 1986 and is currently operating as a Carson Pirie Scott.
Merchants National Bank Building
11 South Meridian Street at southeast corner of Washington Street
Daniel Burnham, one of the fathers of the modern skyscraper, came down from Chicago to design two landmark buildings in Indianapolis. The first, in 1902, was the largest traction terminal in the world for the Indianapolis Traction and Terminal Company. The free-span arched structurecould service nine interurban lines but the architectural wonder was demolished in the 1970s for a new bus station. The second Burnham creation still stands here, at the most important intersection in town. It was constructed in two phases, first in 1908 and the upper stories were added in 1912. The Chicago Style building still shows the practice of constructing high-rises in the image of a classical column with a base (the Indiana limestone pillars that comprise the ground floors), the shaft (the unadorned brick middle floors) and the capital (the glazed terra cotta moldings at the cornice).
1 North Meridian Street at northeast corner of Washington Street
In 1886 Henry Kahn opened a small tailoring shop; Kahn Tailoring would become a principal manufacturer of uniforms for the United States military during World Wars I and II. Kahn operated his empire from this building beginning in 1916; Vonnegut, Bohn & Mueller provided the Neoclassical design.
TURN LEFT ON WASHINGTON STREET.
22 East Washington Street
This commercial building dates to 1893, designed by Robert Platt Daggert who was busy with such projects along Washington Street. The seven-story building has been given a facelift and converted into condos and lofts - look up to see the classical detail on the facade.
32 East Washington Street
This high-rise hotel from 1912 rendered in dark brown brick and given classical decorations by architect Robert Platt Daggett. With only three bays, it is one of the narrowest high-rise buildings in town. With its days as a hotel over, it was converted into office space and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is housed here.
TURN RIGHT ON PENNSYLVANIA STREET.
47 South Pennsylvania Street at northeast corner of Maryland Street
This is the oldest high-rise standing in Indianapolis and was the city’s first modern steel-framed skyscraper. Oscar Bohlen designed the ten-story Romanesque-flavored building for the Indiana Gas Company in 1896. The monumentally arched facade is faced with Indiana limestone.
TURN RIGHT ON MARYLAND STREET. TURN LEFT ON MERIDIAN STREET.
Vajen’s Exchange Block/Circle Centre
100 Block South Meridian Street
When the Circle Centre Mall was developed in the 1990s nine historic facades were dismantled, spruced up and reattached. A tenth facade, the Vajen Exchange Block, was salvaged from its demolition on Pennsylvania Street. John Henry Vajen came to America from Germany when he was 8 years old in 1836. As an adult he made his way to Indianapolis where he opened a wholesale and retail hardware store on East Washington Street. He moved into a hardware emporium behind this three-story Italianate cast-iron facade in 1872. It was demolished in 1980 to make way for the Bank One Tower.
TURN RIGHT ON JACKSON PLACE.
Indianapolis Union Railroad Station
39 Jackson Place
In the early days of railroading lines laid their own track and built their own stations when they reached a new town. At popular crossroads like Indianapolis that bred inefficiency and confusion. The town was the first to solve it with a union station, which all railroads were to use. In August 1849, the Union Railway Company was formed, and it began to lay tracks to connect the various railroads. Then in 1853, it built a large brick train shed at the point where all the lines met, becoming the first union station in the United States. In 1886 Pennsylvania Railroad architect Thomas Rodd wasbrought in to build a larger station. Rodd borrowed heavily from the Romanesque-flavored work of America’s most influential architect at the time, Henry Hobson Richardson. Union Station features such hallmarks of the style as contrasting granite and brick, rough-faced stone, powerful arches and a soaring 185-foot clock tower. By 1900 over 200 trains a day were serviced, second only to Chicago’s Union Station as a Midwest railroad hub. In the 1980s Union Station was converted into a festival marketplace, restaurants and a banquet hall.
TURN RIGHT ON ILLINOIS STREET. TURN LEFT ON GEORGIA STREET. TURN RIGHT ON CAPITOL AVENUE.
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
121 South Capitol Avenue
St. John’s was the first Catholic parish in Indianapolis, founded in 1837 by Irish immigrants. This is the third church for the congregation and second on this site that was acquired in 1846. The Gothic style church was designed by Dietrich Bohlen and the spires on the two towers that flank the main façade were designed by his son Oscar in 1893.
TURN RIGHT ON WASHINGTON STREET.
140 West Washington Street
After their success with the town’s first grand movie palace on Monument Circle the owners went bigger and bolder in the Roaring Twenties with the Indiana Theatre that included seating for 3,200, a ballroom, a bowling alley and food service. Architects Rubush & Hunter, who designed the Circle Theatre and invested here, created a Spanish Baroque fantasy here, rendered in the town’s finest glazed terra cotta. The building was restored and the auditorium was extensively remodeled in 1979–80 to accommodate the needs of the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
Indianapolis News Building
30 West Washington Street
The Indianapolis News is the town’s oldest paper, started in 1869 by a 23-year old reporter named John Hampden Holliday. Charging only two cents to his competitors’ three and packing in more features, the News grew into the state’s most widely read paper known as the “Great Hoosier Daily.” Operations were moved into this building in 1910. The Neo-Gothic design was provided by Jarvis Hunt of Chicago, whose widely praised work can be seen in train stations, suburban estates, industrial buildings, clubhouses across the Midwest. The News published for 130 years before succumbing as one of the country’s last evening papers.
TURN RIGHT ON PLANKINTON AVENUE.
Selig’s Dry Goods Company Building
20 West Washington Street
German-Americans Arthur Bohn and Bernard Vonnegut entered into architectural partnership in 1888, gaining notice around Indianapolis for their distinctly German influenced work. After Vonnegut died in 1910 his son Kurt replaced him in the practice and this Chicago Style building from 1924 is one of their creations. Kurt Vonnegut’s son also made his living with a pen but by crafting science fiction novels instead of buildings.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS BACK TO ILLINOIS STREET UNDERNEATH THE ILLINOIS ARTGARDEN AND TURN RIGHT.
50 North Illinois Street
Herman Wilhelm Bloch sailed from Austro-Hungary to America in 1874. He was William H. Block when he opened a downtown Indianapolis emporium in 1896. When this eight-story store opened in 1910, the new Block’s Department Store attracted 70,000 eager shoppers to the grand opening of “the Pride of Hoosierdom.” With his three sons in charge, the store was doubled in size in 1934. Block’s left the Indianapolis retailing map in 1987 and the hopefully renamed Lazarus store opened in the building but didn’t succeed. In 2003 the upper seven floors were adapted for residential use while sales were once again rung up in retail space on the ground floor.
17 West Market Street at southeast corner of Market Street
Preston C. Rubush and Edgar O. Hunter were the architects most responsible for the look around Monument Circle, designing a quartet of important buildings, including this one, that provide elegance without upstaging the monument. For this ten-story limestone building in 1925 dark green marble was used to accent the restrained Beaux Arts design. In recent years the heritage structure has sat vacant and landed on the list of most endangered buildings in Indiana.
TURN LEFT ON MARKET STREET. IN FRONT OF YOU IS...
West Washington Street at Capitol Avenue
This is the fifth building to house the Indiana government and the second built in Indianapolis as the Indiana Statehouse. The first was a temple-like structure from the 1830s whose foundation was crumbling by the 1870s. Local architect Edwin May designed the current capitol building with a Neoclassical structure in the form of a Greek Cross with formal entrance pavilions on the east and west facades. May died before the ten-ton limestone cornerstone could be laid and his assistant, Adolph Scherrer, a Swiss-born architect trained in Vienna, finished the job. Scherrer retained the form but altered many of the exterior details before the Statehouse was completed in 1888. The grounds are speckled with monuments to the National Road (Washington Street), Indiana miners, Indiana politicians, George Washington and more.
AFTER YOU FINISH EXPLORING THE CAPITOL GROUNDS WALK TO THE NORTHWEST CORNER AT SENATE BOULEVARD AND OHIO STREET. ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE CAPITOL IS...
Indiana State Library
southwest corner of Ohio Street and Senate Boulevard
Plans for a state library percolated in Corydon when Indiana was still a territory and the government was headquartered there. The library did not become a reality, however, until 1841. Architects Edward D. Pierre and George Caleb Wright, who designed more than their share of landmarks around Indiana in a partnership that lasted from 1925 until 1944, drew up plans for this building that was completed in 1934. The Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau, crafted of Indiana limestone and sandstone, the largest public library in the state.
TURN RIGHT ON OHIO STREET.
46 East Ohio Street at Pennsylvania Street
The United States government went on a building spree after the Tarsney Act of 1893 permitted private architects to design federal buildings. This is one of 35 such buildings, designed by architects John Hall Rankin and Thomas Moore Kellogg of Philadelphia. Most were created in the classically based Beaux Art style seen here and exemplified by the fluted Ionic columns. The gray Indiana limestone structure, begun in 1902 and completed in 1905, fills an entire block flanked by projecting end pavilions fronted by pedestals with heroic sculptures by John Massey Rhind entitled “Industry, Science, Agriculture, and Literature.”
One Indiana Square
211 North Pennsylvania Street at northeast corner of Ohio Street
Opened in 1970 as the headquarters of Indiana National Bank, this 36-story tower loomed as Indiana’s tallest building until 1982. The plans originally called for three towers but two were never built, leaving this glass, marble and aluminum skyscraper to go it alone against strong winds that have damaged the building in 1978, 1980, 1990 and 2006.
TURN LEFT ON PENNSYLVANIA STREET. AT NEW YORK STREET WALK LEFT INTO THE SQUARE AND INTO THE CENTER.
Depew Memorial Fountain
University Park, bounded by New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Meridian streets
The southernmost square on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza is University Park which was planned as space for a state university that never materialized. Instead the plaza is populated by this free-standing fountain from 1919 that was funded by the will of Emma Ely Depew in the memory of her husband. The design was created by Austrian-born sculptor Karl Bitter who was head of the sculpture programs at both the 1904 St. Louis Exposition in St. Louis and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco. Bitter was killed in a traffic accident before his design could be executed and the fountain and bronze figures were crafted by Alexander Stirling Calder. Architect Henry Bacon, who was working on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington at the time, completed the grounds.
CONTINUE WALKING TO THE NORTHWEST CORNER AT MERIDIAN AND VERMONT STREETS.
Indianapolis Athletic Club
350 North Meridian Street at the southwest corner of Vermont Street
There were Daggetts designing buildings in Indianapolis for 109 years after Robert Platt Daggett moved to town in 1868 and quickly became one of the state’s leading architects. This brick Renaissance Revival high-rise was designed by his son, Robert Frost Daggett, in 1924. The Club suffered a fatal fire in the winter of 1992 that killed two firefighters and one guest as the building lacked sprinklers. The club closed in 2004.
402 North Meridian Street at northwest corner of Vermont Street
This was the city’s first luxury high-rise apartment building, constructed in a Romanesque style in 1896. The moneyman was Lew Wallace. Indiana native Wallace was trained in the law and entered the military in the Mexican-American War. He rose of the rank of Major General during the Civil War and afterwards served as Territorial Governor of New Mexico and United States Minister to the ottoman Empire. In his spare time Wallace penned the historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ which was published in 1880 and became the best-selling American novel of the 19th century. Blacherne is derived from an Ottoman palace which the elder Wallace saw while ambassador to Constantinople and appeared in his novel, The Prince of India.
WALK BACK PAST THE WAR MEMORIAL TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT IN OBELISK SQUARE.