Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Cartouche, Northeast Corner
Cartouche. One might be familiar with the term cartouche as the ellipse frame surrounding a group of Egyptian hieroglyphs. However, the term cartouche can also be applied to the oval or oblong objects, typically carved to resemble a scroll of parchment, with a circular center containing some type of inscription or relief decoration. In American architecture, cartouches are frequently found above entrances or on a primary facade. This allows the cartouche to feature decoration or information identifying the history or use of the structure; for example, the date of construction. Cartouches can be carved of a variety of materials, while Indiana limestone may be common to Indianapolis, you might also see cartouches of bronze, terracotta, or marble.
With a trained eye, you can find cartouches scattered across the historic structures of Indianapolis. Starting at the circle, the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument features cartouches on the limestone columns on its perimeter. This cartouche is a typical presentation, the scroll features around the central relief ornament. The bronze cartouche includes a relief with Americana ornament, featuring the stars and stripes with the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” across the center on a ribbon.
Another cartouche is found above the primary entrance at the Tyndall-Moorhead Armory (711 North Pennsylvania Street). This terracotta cartouche features a floral themed scroll surround, with an oval center relief. The relief on the armory cartouche includes American iconography, incorporating the eagle with stars and stripes, identifying its connection as a public structure.
The last example of cartouches is found at the entrance of the Turnverein building (902 North Meridian). This structure, historically built as a home for the German immigrant society named the Turner movement, was built in 1914 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then why does the central cartouche feature the date of 1879? As it turns out, the Turner movement was founded in 1879 and that date was chosen to adorn the central cartouche above the entrance. Two other limestone cartouches, each with a scroll surround with a plain center, rest as ornament on top of the limestone columns.
Add it to your vocabulary – how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?
The only piece of information we have on the building’s history comes from the date found on the cartouche.