Sunday Ads: Barney’s at The Lincoln

Written by on March 6, 2016 in Sunday Ads - No comments
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Ever wonder what Alexander Ralston would say if he strolled around downtown Indianapolis today? What was once a precisely planned city has been slowly butchered throughout time. The broad, diagonal streets that angled towards the Circle, giving the city many unique wedge-shaped, flatiron buildings and six-pointed intersections have been neutered, mostly for fortress-like structures that kill street level activity. Today’s ad looks at a business that took the prime spot of a primo hotel that was located at the sharp point of Illinois Street, Washington Street and Kentucky Avenue.

Barney's advertised heavily throughout the 1950's. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Barney’s advertised heavily throughout the 1950’s. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The Hotel Lincoln opened in June of 1918 with only six floors, not long after, topped with nine additional floors, following the end of World War I. By 1955, the grand hotel took on the Sheraton name, as part of the national chain. Read more about the history of the historic hotel here.

A 1950's postcard showing the Sheraton Lincoln (Courtesy eBay)

A 1950’s postcard showing the Sheraton Lincoln (Courtesy eBay)

Barney Blickman had been a jeweler in Indianapolis for some twenty years, prior to opening his own store on the high traffic corridor of Illinois Street. In 1941, the jeweler set up shop in the “point” space of the Lincoln Hotel, taking over space at 101 West Washington Street, which had formerly been occupied by local giant Hook’s Drugs. Art Deco touches added a tinge of sparkle to the heart of downtown shopping. A marquee made of circular glass and stainless steel announced the business to customers. Below the unique sign, a glass showcase showed off the pricey wares to be found beyond the door. Once inside, shoppers could browse among walnut cases with recessed fluorescent lighting.

No need to worry about the summer heat, as the store boasted central air-conditioning, a novelty for the early 1940’s. Unfortunately, the store opened four days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Blickman limped through the war years, dealing with credit restrictions and merchandise shortages. Then the business thrived throughout the 1950’s. By 1957, customers browsed through a new gift department that featured appliances and other electronic gadgets of the day. Barney ran the store until 1962, when he became a diamond specialist for the Warco Supply Company. The era of downtown retail was coming to an end, and the space at 101 West Washington Street was never occupied again.  Barney passed away in 1970 at age 73.

An opening day ad showcased a rendering of the unique sign and display case fronting Barney's (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

An opening day ad showcased a rendering of the unique sign and display case fronting Barney’s (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The hotel was closed in 1968. In 1973, the hotel stood empty, having been stripped of its once posh furnishings and salvageable copper piping and wiring. After Sheraton unloaded the aging beauty, a company called Gotham Hotels stepped in, but business was not good.  On a cold February Saturday, a curious crowd assembled around to watch what was to become the largest implosion in Indianapolis to date. Today the Hyatt Regency, with an address of One South Capitol Avenue, serves the Indy visitor on the formerly triangular-shaped ground.

The end. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The end. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Printed Sources:

Indianapolis Star, October 25th 1950

Indianapolis Star, December 19 1970

Indianapolis Star, September 29th 1957

Indianapolis Star, February 24th 1973

Polk’s City Directory, 1935, 1965, 1968

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About the Author

An avid runner who enjoys daily jaunts throughout Indy's historic neighborhoods, Jeff deeply appreciates the detail and workmanship of old architecture. So much so, that he lives downtown in a restored historic building. He also works downtown as a manager of a not-for-profit that promotes globalization throughout Central Indiana. In a past life, Jeff worked in the hospitality industry and may one day pen a book about the ridiculous things people do while staying in hotels. Stay tuned.

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