HISTORIC INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTS
Indianapolis, while known for its abundance of successful sports teams and thrilling races, with all the historic Indianapolis monuments it is also a history-buff's dream escape. Second to Washington D.C., Indianapolis has more historical monuments than any other city in the country. And, The Westin Indianapolis Hotel is centrally located so you can discover all the historical treasures of the city.
St. Johns Church
Begin your morning with a walk through St. Johns Church. Founded in 1937, St. Johns is one of the most revered landmarks of Indianapolis for its glorious Cathedral and is located in the heart of the business district just one block south of The Westin Indianapolis hotel.
Next, pop into Union Station, just one of the sights listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Indianapolis and the first ever union station in the world. Just a seven minute walk from our hotel, here you will discover the single most important icon of the city's railroad era. Repeatedly rebuilt and expanded to handle the city's growing railroad business (over 200 trains passed through the station at the turn of the 20th century), the current station is famous for the Romanesque Revival architecture, its tapered stone walls, and its massive multi-coursed round brick arches.
Hibben, Holloweg & Co.
Stop by Jillian's, the former Hibben, Holloweg & CO. Designed by Vonnegut & Bohn, a prominent architecture firm responsible for the construction of several buildings in Indianapolis and around Indiana, the building is just a two minute walk from Union Station, and is the largest and newest of the historic wholesale buildings. Check out the steel skeleton and ornate arches which exemplify modernity. Currently Jillian's is a one stop shop for great food and limitless entertainment.
Circle Centre Mall
Not just any place to shop, Circle Centre Mall, connected to The Westin Indianapolis by skybridge, is also a connection to the past. In its construction, the mall was built using the facades of The House of Cranes, the Rothchild Building, the Mallott Building and Vajen's Exchange Block Building. These were architecturally significant buildings from the 19th and early 20th century. They were dismantled brick by brick, stored during the construction, then incorporated in to the exterior the new mall. Shoppers can now enjoy these buildings of the past as part of the new urban landscape.
Morrison's Block Building
This building is know for it's beautiful cast iron columns, metal ceiling and curved oak stairway. The former location of the Morrison Opera Place, which burned to the ground, was slated for demolition in the 1950's. However, with funds raised for its preservation, Morrison's Block became the first restoration south of Washington Street in 1979. Interestingly, due to the historical significance of this section of downtown Indianapolis, signage is limited and notable signs, including the famous guitars hung outside Hard Rock Cafés, were not allowed to stick out from the buildings.
Built in 1905, L.S.Ayres was Indianapolis' first ever premier department store, now the current Carson Pirie Scott store, just ten minutes walk from the hotel. As a company, L.S. Ayres pioneered Indianapolis with technology - it was the home to the city's first gas, electric light and telephones (1876), elevators and glass counters (1890), air conditioning (1929) and charge card (1937). It was a pioneer for women's rights, hiring the first female manager in 1910. A true staple in the city, the Ayres clock was a popular destination for people to meet. The department store was known for its magnificent holiday decorations and even began the Christmas Cherub tradition of putting a cherub over the clock to lookout over holiday shoppers; the cherub is still an icon of Indianapolis. The department store was also famous for its tea room, which has been recreated at the Indiana State Museum, using the original tables and chairs and serving its authentically reproduced menu.
Built in 1927, the Indiana Theatre is famous for its terra cotta design and Spanish barogue style infused with Indian, Spanish and Egyptian motifs. Its lobby was restored through a $5 million restoration to its original condition. The theatre is also home to the Indiana Roof Ballroom, a restored outdoor Spanish village used for many local events in Indianapolis. Definitely worth a visit and just a three minute walk from The Westin Indianapolis hotel.
The Bates house, one of the first hotels in downtown Indianapolis, was established in 1853 and is famous for the first major policy statement given by President Abraham Lincoln to 45,000 on lookers from the hotel balcony. In 1903, The Bates House was turned into The Claypool, a bustling hotel famous for its lobby, which was reportedly the largest in the country, and its grand size of 450 guest rooms, each with its own private bath, a new phenomenon of the time. Many celebrities and presidents stayed at the Claypool, including William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The site of the former Bates House is now the Embassy Suites and just a three minute walk from The Westin Indianapolis hotel.
Indiana State House
The Indiana Statehouse, just across the street from The Westin hotel, has been the seat of Indiana's government since 1887 and is perhaps the grandest 19th-century Neo-Classical Revival building in Indiana. It's placement is key to the city, visible from the Circle. Anthem Demolished in 1948, the formerly known English Opera House was built in1880 by William Hayden English. The theatre was built after the New York Grand Opera House.
Standing 284 feet tall, just 10 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument built in the neo-classical style was built to honor the 24,000 Hoosiers who were lost during the Civil War. Completed in 1901, the statue designed by Bruno Schmitz, is Indianapolis' signature structure built in the city's original mile square. At the top of the monument stands Miss Indiana (originally Miss Victory but changed since the Hoosiers fought on both sides of the war). Leading directly to the Monument is Meridian Street, named this because it runs on one of the numbered lines of longitude.
In the 1820s, the center of circle was used by many ministers for outdoor services; Saturdays were market days where eggs were sold for three cents and venison was sold for twenty-five cents. The Governor's mansion was built at the center of the circle; however, the Governor never had residence here because his wife did not want to hang her laundry for the public to view. The mansion was later demolished.
In the basement of the Monument is located the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, which commemorates Indiana's history during the American Civil War.
Admission is free!
Christ Church Cathedral
The oldest Church in Indianapolis and famous for its Tiffany window on the Meridian Street side, the church is the first building built on the Circle and is the oldest standing building in the city Circle.
The Columbia Club is the premiere private city club in Indianapolis and is another historic building on the Circle. The beautiful Clubhouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features fine and casual dining, catering and meeting facilities, 96 guest rooms and a complete fitness center. The club has hosted every Republican president beginning with Benjamin Harrison all the way through George Bush Jr.
The Circle Theatre, also known as the Hilbert Circle Theatre, was built in 1916 and is the second oldest building on the Circle. Home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra today, it was the first Indianapolis building constructed to feature motion pictures and was one of the first places to go to the movies west of New York City. Its architecture is also worth noticing, with terra cotta facades reflecting an 18th century popular British style and a classical Greek Frieze (mural). Films were shown for 65 years before the theatre was closed in 1981.
Another historical building on the Circle, the Guaranty Building, was the first building to challenge the 1905 "Shadow Law" which limited the construction of buildings on the circle to no higher than the Monument itself. The law was amended in 1922 to allow for extended building height, which the Guaranty Building meets.