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.
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).
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 came 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.