City proposes historic district for Monument Circle and nearby area

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Such modern buildings as the Conrad Hotel and headquarters for Emmis Communications Corp. and WellPoint Inc. could become part of a new historic preservation district for the Monument Circle.

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission is proposing to take under its jurisdiction 90 buildings on and near the Circle, giving the city stricter control over signage and other changes to building exteriors. Notice of the proposal was sent to the property owners Monday, city officials said.

“I think a lot of people will be surprised to find it isn’t protected,” said David Baker, administrator of the preservation commission. Monument Circle is part of a National Register Historic District, but that federal designation doesn't create a local review process. 

monument circle historic district 15colThis map shows the boundaries of the proposed Monument Circle district, including some 90 buildings on or near the Circle. (Image/City of Indianapolis)

The proposed district would follow roughly the same boundaries as the federal district, but also take in buildings along Washington Street that aren't already captured by downtown's Wholesale District south of the Circle. The Monument Circle district would exclude Hilbert Circle Theatre and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, as those are already protected. 

Creating the district has been a priority for the commission since Circle Center Mall was built in the early 1990s, but staff didn’t have time to develop a plan, Baker said.

The not-for-profit preservation group Indiana Landmarks four years ago provided the city with enough money to hire consultants to conduct building inventories and help create the plan, which will be subject to two public hearings. The plan must pass the preservation commission as well as the Metropolitan Development Commission.

A community meeting is scheduled July 25 at the Indiana Landmarks Center.

Landmarks President Marsh Davis said there was no single event or change that prompted his concern. "There's always the possibility something unfortunate can happen," he said. “This is the preeminent cultural center not just of the city but the whole state.”

The Circle dates back at least as far as 1821, when it was included in the Plat of the Town of Indianapolis. It surrounded the intended site of the governor's house, according to "The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis." The Soldiers and Sailors Monument was erected bwteeen 1888 and 1901.

Baker said the historic district designation would not mean an extra layer of bureaucracy for property owners. A wide area in and around downtown is already covered by the Regional Center Plan, in which building and signage changes get a separate staff review and, if a project is worth more than $1 million, a separate public hearing. If the Monument Circle area is designated as a historic district, properties within it would no longer be subject to the Regional Center review.

The city's preservation commission has jurisdiction over 16 districts, including three commercial areas—the downtown Wholesale District, Massachusetts Avenue and Fountain Square.

The Monument Circle area is unique in that it represents a "mish mash" of architectural styles and periods, Baker said. Unlike in other historic districts, every building will be considered as contributing to the district's character, and thus subject to stricter standards.  


  • District
    BRAVO do not want the area to look like Carmel's Disneyland Main Street
  • Yes to traffic Fresh Air
    We've been down this road many times since the 1970's and, YES we keep the TRAFFIC on the Circle at any and all cost!! Only the naïve , uninformed and idealistic can propose the no traffic concept, unless we want to Kill the entire circle area, of which we don't! The new District is a good idea, assuming the IHPC is informed and open enough to be professional and intelligent with their decision making. Politics cannot work on the Circle, it's too Important to Indy and the State...it is our center, and it is our unique Circle, not one like it in all the USA!
  • Bad Idea
    I am guessing the previous comment(s) are from those who don't own property in the subject area. Another layer of bureaucratic oversight is EXACTLY what we DO NOT NEED! These people are happy to spend other people's money to dictate what they feel is necessary to preserve the "historic" nature.
  • Move the Traffic
    I'll use Vienna's Karnnerstrasse as a model of how a pedestrian zone could work on Monument Circle. Deliveries are allowed prior to business hours and the rest of the time emergency vehicles and police only are allowed. Monument Circle could be the premier pedestrian zone in the U.S. with top caliber restaurants with outdoor seating as well as other retail, hopefully, owned by locals. It takes vision and an open mind to overcome obstacles.
  • Empowered Preserve Eclectic
    The thought of more bureaucracy is applauding to some,but I applaud this level of review to preserve the uniqueness of the architecture of the Circle area. The uniqueness is in the statements made in regards to the city's history, ethnicity with various architectural designs of German, Italian, Egyptian, and American influence, and reaching compromises in the use of facades and adaptive reuse.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

    2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

    3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

    4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

    5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!