Back in time: Buildings in the news

July 31, 2008
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Grain Dealers buildingFirst off, an update on the new plans for the Grain Dealers building: London Witte Group has hired locally based Lynn Hines Design Associates to revitalize the space and preserve its "retro" appeal. The plans call for vintage-inspired fixtures, flooring, wall coverings and furnishings. London Witte also expects to install energy efficient windows and new mechanical systems. The buyer was represented by Resource Commercial Real Estate. The brokers, Tom Osborne and Matt Moore, discovered the original hand-sketched rendering of the building (shown at right). The firm added color to the drawing and plans to hang it in the lobby. More on the building is here.


Old Woolworth IndianapolisAnd here's a second historic image: This is what the BW3 space discussed below looked like in 1938, when it was home to a Woolworth department store. The photo at right (Click for a larger version) is from the Indiana Historical Society. Thanks to the reader who posted the image in the comments section of yesterday's BW3 post. I'm told the building to the left was destroyed in a fire several years back.

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  • They need to add windows to the south facade of the Grain Dealers Building!

    AND, they need to add LARGE ceiling to floor windows at BW3 to complement the lovely Borders store next door.
  • Hopefully we can get an infill project on that parking lot between BW3 & Morton's! Wishful thinking, I know.
  • Way to go Resource! Great find! I'm glad the buyer plans to keep the building within it's original design. The orginal sketch is cool too.
  • Does anyone know if State Life Insurance Co. occupied the building where the parking lot is now? I worked in that building in the late 1960s.
  • Cory, the building to the left was last the Grant Department Store. The 1973 fire was one of the biggest in the city's history. At the time many feared much of downtown would be lost to the fire. Here's a link for more about the fire:
    http://www.indygov.org/eGov/City/DPS/IFD/History/Fires/grantfire.htm
  • I noticed that the BW3's in Speedway has the same nasty yellow and black and white stripes. The architects representing BW3 do not know jack about creating appeasing design and architecture in an urban area which attracts diners. Looks like BW3's design firm bought into the 'one size fits all' philospohy. Big, ugly mistake!!
  • Actually, the building on the left would be the Thomas Building which was destroyed when the Grant Building caught fire.

    I love reading the story about it. Could have been so much worse!
  • I love the Grain Dealers Building. I am a bit gutted about the previously announced plans falling through, but at least the building is getting reused. There is so much potential along that stretch of Meridian Street and whatever can be done to add foot traffic is an asset.
  • Cory,

    Doing a story on the Grant fire I think would be interesting to your readers. It greatly changed the face of that section of downtown including almost destroying the building you are currently located in. Its roof along with those across Washington Street caught fire. The fire almost wiped out most of the east side of downtown. Only through brave work of the firefighters did they contain it.
  • Didn't the flames actually jump across to Symphony Center and Victoria Building? It has been a while since I was in either of them but for some reason it sticks out in my mind that there was some damage done to those two buildings in the fire.
  • The building to the immediate left (east) of the Woolworth building in this photo WAS the State Life building (though in later years it may have been known as the Thomas building, I don't know). Here is a link to a photo of the State Life building (again, from the Indiana Historical Society): http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/dc012&CISOPTR=58&CISOBOX=1&REC=5

    The Grant building (earlier home to the New York Store) was just to the east of the State Life building--as others have mentioned, the source of the big 1973 fire that destroyed both buildings.

    Here is another great view from the IHS, looking east on Washington, showing both the Brant and State Life buildings, plus the Woolworth building before it was redesigned with the art deco facade in the 1930s: http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/dc012&CISOPTR=8590&CISOBOX=1&REC=9
  • Forgive my typo in the last post--it is Grant building, not Brant.
  • I love that IFD page about the Grant fire. Every building on that block suffered some amount of damage. The effects remain today in the form of those vacant lots and the failure of that block to develop. It would be nice to have something built there since those lots have only been vacant for 35 years now!
  • Maybe they're still waiting for their insurance companies to settle?

    Seriously, though, there is a piece by Jim Glass in that other Indianapolis newspaper (sorry Cory) about Modernism in Indianapolis architecture. It mentions the State Life headquarters (now Julia Carson Center) at 300 E. Fall Creek Parkway as a prominent 60's example of Modernism...so it makes sense that the State Life building would have carried another name by the time of the 1973 fire.
  • thundermutt:

    The building on Fall Creek Parkway was Standard Life. State Life's headquarters were in the building at the southwest corner of Washington and Delaware.
  • Also...look closely at that 50's architect's rendering of Grain Dealers. The client apparently chose the Art Deco style block lettering that is still on the building today, rather than the script proposed by the architect.

    The client was right.

    And one more thing: there's a multi-story building shadow across the center of the facade. Whatever cast that shadow is long gone, replaced by...a parking lot.
  • Oops, Berwickguy. I stand corrected.
  • The shadow is from a 3-1/2 story apartment block that is across the street. It is the only possible source according to the old aerials. It is an overly long shadow. Also, to explain the absence of windows on the South elevation, they may have intended to grow in that direction. That building is the result of three additions to an original house that used to be where the tower is today.
  • Oops, it was actually four additions, and a refacing of the 2 story portion.
  • Thanks, George, for the information about State Life Insurance Co. My first job was working for the company in that building.
  • Does anybody have any knowledge of the retailers that may go into The Maxwell, 3 Mass or The Cosmopolitan retail spaces? I would really like to know!

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