The Stories Behind Indy’s Beautiful Buildings

November 25, 2013

If you’ve seen our apartments at 50 N. Illinois Street–the Block Building–in Indy’s Monument Circle then it should be no surprise how much we love historic neighborhoods, landmarks, and architecture. All three of those things, in fact, can be found right here in Monument Circle.

Over a hundred years old, the Block Building used to house a department store. But what’s the story with some of downtown Indy’s other beautiful buildings? Well, John Ketzenberger wrote a great piece over at the Star which sheds light on some of our favorite buildings. Below is an excerpt.


The Majestic Building at Pennsylvania and Maryland streets is 118 years old, but the real story behind these 10 stories is steel. Its steel frame construction, pioneered in Chicago after the Great Fire, made it this city’s tallest building when it was built for the Indianapolis Gas Co., later Citizens Gas, in 1895.

Be sure to look at the incredibly detailed carvings that mark the entrances off Pennsylvania Street. And notice that the Pennsylvania Street side’s design is symmetrical, while the Maryland Street side is not.

Across the street is the Century Building with its beautiful red-orange brick and wide overhanging roof. Finished in 1910, the building was home to several printing companies and their presses, but after World War II, it housed primarily offices. In 1973, the top two floors were damaged when the W.T. Grant Building burned in perhaps the most spectacular Downtown fire.

A pioneer of the city’s current restaurant culture, J.P. Moraldo, started his Benvenuti in the Century Building in the 1980s. His roasted red bell pepper soup remains an all-time favorite of mine and, legend has it, won the praise of Mick Jagger.

The next time you walk by the Hampton Inn at Meridian and Maryland streets, look up at the grand terra cotta details that marked it as a headquarters. The Chesapeake Building was finished in 1929 to house the Big Four Railroad’s offices. A block south and east is the railroad’s huge maintenance facility that still serviced locomotives until just before Bankers Life Fieldhouse opened across the street in 1999.

[Source: Indy Star]

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MJ is a songwriter and local musician, freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, lover of travel, and a terrible mechanic. When MJ graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Creative Writing, he was immediately barraged with 'questions' of "What are you gonna do, teach?" He is determined to not get a job teaching. So far, so good. With music, MJ's traveled the country touring on his songs. Having spent time in places from Chicago to Seattle, LA to New Orleans, and Nashville to NYC, he is convinced that Detroit and its 'burbs have the the highest concentration of 'native' songwriting talent anywhere. Eat it, New York. You too, LA. MJ started writing for the Urbane Life in the summer of 2011. He also writes for a handful of other websites as well as an immigration lawyer. He used to work in a publishing house. He's glad he's out.

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