Evolution of a landmark: From railroad headquarters to the Bud Light Hotel

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Bud Light Hotel IndianapolisWalking by the newly swanky and exclusive Bud Light Hotel the other day got me wondering about the building's history. I also wondered how I might finagle a ticket to the Playboy Party there, but that's another story for another venue.

The 180-room art deco style hotel at 105 S. Meridian St. was completed in 1930 as a new headquarters for the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, also known as the Big Four Railroad. Of course the railroad (now part of CSX) also served Indianapolis.

The nine-story structure's historic name is the Chesapeake Building. It was designed D. A. Bohlen & Son and redesigned as a hotel by Browning, Day, Mullins & Dierdorf in 1997. During the Super Bowl festivities, a cool night-time light show is drawing new attention to the building's brick and terra cotta façade.

The old Big Four Railroad also built what's now known as the CSX Building at the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and Georgia streets across from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, to use as offices and a service shop for locomotives.

Ironically, the first-floor of that building is now a temporary sports bar pouring Bud Light rivals Coors Light and Miller Lite.

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