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No trip to Indianapolis is complete without a pilgrimage to the round heart pulsating at the city’s epicenter. And while the beloved monument—unquestionable Queen at the pinnacle of this domain—is nationally recognized, the younger Circle Tower Building, glorious in her own beauty, bows reverentially at the sovereign’s side.

Circle Tower, August 2017. (Image: Tiffany Benedict Browne)

Circle Tower presents the best of Indianapolis. And its art deco era: 1928-1930. The tallest edifice located directly on Monument Circle, this office building premiered the “modern setbacks” dictated by a 1922 zoning ordinance, restricting the height and materials allowed on The Circle henceforth, never to leave ‘Victory’ in a building’s shadow. Demolition of the former buildings on the site began in May 1929. This was the first building in the city to use “set-back theory” more prevalent in other Eastern cities.

Between the ziggurat form, the carved limestone accents and bronze detailing on the grill above the Market Street entrance, the Indianapolis architecture firm of Rubush & Hunter paid ample homage to the Egyptian motif. Internationally popularized after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in November 1922, Americans became smitten with all things Egypt. The elaborate exterior foreshadows the opulently outfitted lobby of this art deco gem.

A rare world of decadence awaits those who enter the building. Black travertine marble-lined walls, frequently interspersed with bronze relief sculptures of flora, fauna and sunbursts and gold elevator doors gleaming from top to bottom featuring sinewy figures shown in masculine work poses. A second floor salon retains the majority of art deco details installed for the original barber shop; it also has incomparable views. The first shop in the building to open faced Market: The Tower Establishment, a smart custom clothing shop for men.

The total cost of the building, including a 99 year lease was reportedly $1.7 million dollars. It was completed not long after the famous Stock Market Crash of 1929.

What’s not to love when even the mail-slot is drool-worthy?

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3 responses to “Friday Favorite: Circle Tower”

  1. Jim says:

    Photo #1 is really strong — great perspective, good color.

  2. basil berchekas jr says:

    Have been there on business several times, and used Starbucks downstairs. Always awed by the art deco styling and setbacks (promoted when New York City adopted its first zoning ordinance in response to the Equitable Building blocking sunlight and air circulation off Broadway and Wall Streets in 1911-1912)…

  3. George Starkey says:

    I love this building. I seldom get inside (ok, I sneak into the lobby when I visit the tea shoppe) but when I get the chance, I love to stare at and get lost in the intricacies of the design work that adorn it. And yes, receiving a package from that mail box would make the item 50% cooler. 🙂

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