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Historic Structures of

Indianapolis, Indiana

Commercial Structures

Below are pictures of larger commercial buildings in Indianapolis. The buildings on this page show a wide variety of architectural styles.

Indianapolis, in the central part of the state, is the capital of Indiana and seat of Marion Co. In 1821 the community, now the largest city in Indiana, was named Indianapolis, and the U.S. engineer Alexander Ralston who assisted the French architect Pierre L'Enfant in planning Washington, D.C., was commissioned to lay out the community.

Incorporated as a city 1847, Indianapolis is a commercial manufacturing, transportation, and cultural center situated in the productive Corn Belt agricultural region.

Points of interest include the home of President Benjamin Harrison; the home of the Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley; the State Capitol (completed 1888); Union Station; the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1902), in Monument Circle, the heart of the city; Woodruff Place and Lockerbie Square historic districts; Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, including the American Legion national headquarters building; and the Gothic-style Scottish Rite Cathedral.

Numerous cultural institutions and museums find their home in the city. In addition, Indianapolis supports modern dance and ballet companies, a symphony orchestra, an opera company, and several theater groups, including the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

In the 1960s and '70s major programs of urban redevelopment were undertaken by the city. Unfortunately, Indianapolis does not have the most progressive attitude toward historic preservation in the state, but a growing awareness of the city's architectural assets has resulted in a thriving preservationist community.

Indianapolis - historic Lombard Building

Beautifully kept Lombard Building (1893)

22 E. Washington St.

Two-Part Vertical Block, a style which became common for commercial buildings in the late 19th century. The facade is divided into two main "zones" that, though separated, are nevertheless closely related to one another.


Indianapolis - historic Test Building

Test Building (1925)

54 Monument Circle

Three-Part Vertical Block, a common architectural style of the 20's

(Next door appears to be an example of "facadism" taking place. A historic building is being artificially heightened. This is inferior to keeping a building as the original architect intended, but is, of course, somewhat preferable to demolition.)


Indianapolis - historic Columbia Club

Columbia Club (1924)

121 Monument Circle

This commercial building is a fine example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture, characterized by pointed arches and ribbed vaulting. This broad style of architecture stemmed from a movement of the 18th and 19th centuries aimed at reviving the spirit and forms of Gothic architecture.


Indianapolis - Selig's Dry Goods Building

Selig's Dry Goods Building (1924)

20 W. Washington St.

Enframed Window Wall. This style is marked by framing the central windowed section with a continuous border of masonry. (The ground floor level has been altered.)


Indianapolis News Building

Indianapolis News Building (1910)

30 W. Washington

Two-Part Commercial Block (the ground-floor level has been altered).


Indianapolis - Taylor Carpet Co.

Taylor Carpet Co. (1897)


Stacked Vertical Block (the ground-floor level has been altered)


Indianapolis - Merchant's National Bank

Merchant's National Bank (1912)

11 S. Meridian St.

Three-Part Vertical Block

This style is basically the same as the Two-Part Vertical Block, except that it has three clear demarcations, including an upper zone of one to three stories. This was the dominant style of tall buildings throughout the 1920's.


Indianapolis - historic Hotel Washington

Hotel Washington (1912)

32 E. Washington St.

Three-Part Vertical Block


Indianapolis - historic Cole Motor Car Co.

Cole Motor Car Co. (1914)

730 E. Washington St.

A representative example of a factory/industrial style building.

Yes, they were actually made of brick and mortar back then, not like the pole barns of today!

These photos are courtesy of the photographer, Mike Habeck ( Mike is with EcoIndiana and, in addition to being concerned about historic architecture, is also looking out for the state's natural environment. Our thanks to Mike for sharing these photos with us.

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