Main staircase of the Victoria Centre, designed by Rowland Design Inc. – photo by Ryan Hamlett

The Victoria Center, one of Indianapolis’ preservation success stories, has been around in its current incarnation for nearly 30 years. What is actually a melding of two historic buildings (the Marrott’s Shoes Building c.1900 and the Lombard Building c.1892); the preservation of the facades and rehabilitation of the interiors were finished in 1984 by the Realty Investments Company out of Silver Springs, Maryland.

- photo by Ryan Hamlett

The Lombard Building section of the Victoria Centre today – photo by Ryan Hamlett

The Lombard Building, which was situated between the Hotel Washington and the Marrott’s Shoes Building (now easily identified as the home of Red’s Barber Shop), housed dozens of businesses in its 100 years between construction and renovation. Smaller business and offices populated the upper floors while the lower levels were dedicated to retail outlets including Cleveland, Ohio based Richman Bros. (men’s apparel) and George J. Marott’s shoe store, prior to his moving one building west and subsequently building himself quite the little empire (later building the Marott building on Mass Ave. and later, the Marott Hotel, now apartments, on Meridian and Fall Creek in 1926).

- From Indiana Preservationist, 1983

Street view mock up of the proposed renovation of Marott’s Shoes and Lombard Buildings into the Victoria Centre – from Indiana Preservationist, 1983

While the facades of both buildings were restored and preserved, the opulent lobby of the Lombard building is in fact the creation of Indianapolis design firm Rowland Associates. The wooden staircase and balustrades┬ácame from a private residence that once stood on North Capitol Avenue. More ominously, at least for at least one Victoria Centre worker I know, the wood paneling of the main staircase was salvaged from the 1975 razing of the Men’s and Women’s Kirkbride buildings of Central State Hospital.

Whether the spectral, late-night footsteps she hears are a figment of her imagination or are attached to the Asylum’s repurposed decor remain to be seen.

Photo by Ryan Hamlett

Photo by Ryan Hamlett

3 responses to “Lombard Building (Victoria Centre)”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    All I can say is we need to stay with this post!

  2. David Brewer says:

    Back in the 1980s I used to wait in front of this building to catch the bus back home. There used to be a Hallmark store on the ground floor. I also remember interviewing for a job (a couple of different times) at CRE, an advertising agency located on one of the upper floors. Great story about the staircase!

  3. Norm Morford says:

    Ryan — a fascinating account. Why would some outfit in Silver Springs, MD, be interested in historic renewal in Indy?

    We need a whole lot of that kind of interest at Connesville, Indiana — the place where the two Conner brothers lived, one of whom married a Native Am. woman. Also, when the very young state government of Indiana, centered at Corydon, indiana, decided to find a place for the new state capital, the group tasked with deciding the best spot met at the Conner house, still part of Conner Prairie Farm, and set out from there, finally deciding that where Fall Creek flowed into White River would be the best spot for the new capital. They thought that White River would be navigable, but the first boat to try the trip was stuck and there ended the dream.

    Connersville has a good many abandoned or at least empty factory buildings. The “newest” is a plant that Ford used to make auto air conditioners. Ford has been gone for some time and Carbon Motors was going to build police cruisers in that building. However, they did not get a federal grant and then pulled out.

    Connersville and Fayette County need some new boost for historic redevelopment.

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