The World’s Largest Christmas aka Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument sits on a three acre plot of land that Indianapolis city planner Alexander Ralston originally deemed “Governor’s Circle.” Intended to be the location of the Governor’s residence, a mansion was built on the Circle in 1827. However, because of the very public local and very shoddy construction, no Governor ever called the circle home and the mansion was razed in 1857.
The circle, now a popular meeting area became known as “Circle Park” until efforts were made to erect a monument for Indiana’s veterans of the Civil War in the 1880s. The Indiana General Assembly raised $200,000 for the project and chose a design by German architect Bruno Schmitz out of 70 submissions. The cornerstone was laid on 1889 and twelve years later the Indiana State Solders’ and Sailors’ Monument was dedicated on May 15th 1902.
The idea for decorating the Monument in lights was first suggested in 1945 by prominent Indianapolis architect Edward D. Pierre as a symbol of peace post World War Two. It wasn’t until 1962 that 52 strands of lights were strung from the top of the Monument to form the tree of lights that marks the holiday season.