Circle Tower From the Observation Deck of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument

One of the things I’ve taken away from the few weeks that I’ve been manning this feature, is how intertwined the origins of many of the buildings around town truly are. Take, for instance, The Circle Tower.

As an admirer of Indy’s architecture, I’m embarrassed to say that before I looked into the history of this Art Deco wonder, I had never heard of the firm Rubush & Hunter. Content with thinking that historic architecture in Indianapolis primarily consisted of Vonnegut & Bohn (Atheneum, etc.) and the Chicago interlopers Burnham and Root (Merchant’s Bank Tower), I failed to notice that Indiana natives Preston Rubush and Edgar Hunter were responsible for nearly half the circle and dozens of other local landmarks.

Having recently completed both the ornate Indiana Theater (now the IRT) and the Circle Theater, Rubush & Hunter were tapped to replace the nine year old Franklin Building on the southeast corner of Market Street and Monument Circle, seen here:

The Franklin Building, razed to make room for the Circle Tower. The statue of Benjamin Franklin, mounted on the corner of the second story, now resides at Franklin College.

The Franklin Building, constructed in 1873, was razed in 1929 to make room for the multi-use Circle Tower, which was specially designed as to reduce the amount of shadow it cast on the Monument. HI highlighted some of the Tower’s ornate details over this past summer, which can be found here.

As for the other buildings I mentioned coming from the prolific Rubush & Hunter? In addition to the aforementioned Indiana and Circle Theaters, there’s also the Guaranty Building (home to Nicky Blaine’s and Exact Target), Old City Hall, the Murat Temple, the Madam C.J.Walker Building, the Illinois Building (in serious need of some love), the School for the Deaf on E. 42nd Street, the original Coliseum (replaced by the current Coliseum in 1939) and Livestock Pavilion at the State Fair Grounds, the Masonic Temple on Illinois, and even a hotel built for Indianapolis Motor Speedway innovator Carl Fisher in Miami Beach, Florida. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to touch upon these two in future weeks.


10 responses to “A Room With A View – Circle Tower from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    This is excellent on the Circle Tower, that Art Deco gem quite rare in the Circle City….a truly urbane addition to the city’s skyline.

  2. Robert Bass says:

    My grandfather’s firm, Bass Knowlton was in business at the same time until my grandfather passed in 1929. Some of his buildings included the Test building, still on the circle (SW corner), the Lyric Theater now gone across from Blocks department store on Illinois. the Cole Motor car factory now Jail II, the Allison Mansion (Outside) at Marion College, the mansion just to the north of Marion College and others.

  3. John Ketzenberger says:

    Nice post and thanks for your work. I noticed, too, the Jungclaus firm built the Circle Tower and it might be worth exploring in a future installment. I also noticed the First Indiana Building in the upper right with it’s two-story upper windows that are covered now. I’d like to hear more about it in the future, too.

  4. Ryan Hamlett says:

    Thanks John! I didn’t notice that at first. Definitely a change in those windows and an elimination of the original arches. I’ll see what I can dig up about that.

  5. Ryan Hamlett says:

    Thank you for that Robert. It’s fascinating the way things are connected when you start pulling on a string. I may need to work my way around the history of the Circle and tap you for further info on the Test Building. This is what the National Parks Service has on it:

  6. Ryan Hamlett says:

    Thanks! And I agree wholeheartedly.

  7. Norm Morford says:

    Thanks, Ryan. Having worked in that building for a while in 2005, I was glad to see the info you found.

  8. Louis says:

    I think the Franklin building was built earlier than 1920.

  9. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Yes, it was 1873–I’ve corrected the typo.

  10. Anonymous says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *