The terra cotta-clad 12-story tall Roosevelt Building at 9 North Illinois Street was constructed in 1922, completed January 1, 1923, and had a major remodeling in 1949. It was designed by the Vonnegut, Bohn & Mueller firm for the Libby Realty Company as speculative office space. The site had previously been the site of the six-story United Building, itself constructed sometime after 1898.

Libby Realty had leased the property from Millard Realty, which had leased the property from Edward Claypool (who was presumably related to the Claypool Hotel, which was located across Illinois Street) in 1907 for a term of 99 years. The Claypool heirs maintained their interest share until 1981, when the owner became the “Roosevelt Building Co.” In 1984, Joan and John Hillenbrand bought the property, turning around the next year to sell it to a subsidiary of Melvin Simon & Associates. Before the end of 1985, the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development had bought the property. The last tenants vacated in 1989, and in late 1990, the building was razed. The site then held one corner of the Indianapolis Artsgarden, but most of it remained an underutilized plaza until the construction of the Conrad Hotel in 2004-05.

More views of the building just prior to demolition…

View to the northeast View to the northwest

View to the southwest of the back side of the building Detail of the upper stories on the Illinois Street side

Detail on the Washington Street side

Post-1949 remodeling lobby stairway. Compare this view (taken in 1990) to the 1930 Bass photo. Additional photos from the IHS collection can be found here.

All photos seen here are from the 1990 Historic American Buildings Survey done by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission prior to the demolition of the building. The entire document can be found in the Library of Congress archive, here.

4 responses to “Preservation Denied: the Roosevelt Building”

  1. Wayne Wyatt says:

    I remember this building so well! I roamed its halls as a young 8 year old boy, once a week when my mother had her hair done at Van’s Beauty Salon. So sad that it had to be razed.

  2. Phillip R. Semenick says:

    My father was the maintenance man for the building from about 1968 to 1982. In the early 80’s, I worked in the lobby as a security guard which helped pay my way through college. I remember tenant, Ruth’s Sandwich Shop, where a giant roast beef sandwich was $1.10, or polish sausage. I remember tenant, Harry Oliver Tailors, Dentist, Dr. Saul Friedland, the eyeglass shop in the lobby, NuMode Hosiery, Zales Jewelry and many others. What a shame to see it gone.

  3. frank cullen says:

    This is another example of erasing history, A gorgeous Beaux Ars building replaced by an ugly giant grey cereal box

  4. Frank Cullen says:

    Back East (Boston/Cambridge) I served on several state and multiple commissions and was a twice-elected Chair of Model Cities. Most community (re)development boards are made up of real estate people and employees of developers. The serve to enrich themselves and perpetuate the continuous cycling of lawyers and low-profile employees from mega real-estate developers and city/town government executives. Some members of my citizens’ board were enticed by real-estate people (both corporate and those working for non-profit: Harvard & MIT). Too often, the federal programs to rebuild communities have been diverted to owners of large downtown commercial buildings. Never take any developers word: it has little value. Cleanse city & state redevelopment fiefdom’s of employees who got their training by working (on tax money) in the private industries of real estate, law and construction industries.

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