This 1935 photograph documents the south side of West Ohio Street from Illinois Street looking east toward Meridian Street. Although this block was just northwest of Monument Circle and backing the old English Hotel, these buildings were rarely photographed by Bass Photo Company. This photograph found at Ball State University gives us a glimpse of some unfamiliar structures.  To the right is the Stewart Place Block, housing Hook’s Drugs and Beam’s Bowling and Billiards. Farther east is the Gem Hotel, Telephone Building, and the old Indianapolis Library and Indianapolis Public School’s administration building. Zoom in on the digital photograph to explore details.

(Ball State University, University Libraries, Drawings and Documents Archive, Pierre and Wright Architectural Records Collection, Bass Photo Company 231213)


A quick check of online sources did not reveal the construction date of the Stewart Place Building, but new owners hired architects Vonnegut and Bohn in 1913 to make extensive changes. A Stewart Place building stood on this corner as early as the 1880s. (Indianapolis Star, January 7, 1913, p. 6)


In 1941 the buildings in this block were the Stewart Building, Hotel Gem, Hilgenberg Building, Celtic Federal Savings and Loan, and the Board of School Commissioners Administration Building and the Business Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library. (IUPUI University Library)

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Photo courtesy of Tammi Burns.

Today, not a single building shown in the 1935 photograph still stands. A drugstore, now CVS, still anchors the corner in the ground level of a parking garage. The Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel (built in 1971 as the Hilton Indianapolis) dominates the rest of the block. In the distance is Chase Tower, Indiana’s tallest building. Constructed in 1990 as Bank One, the forty-eight story Chase Tower is located on the former site of the Board of Trade and the Hume-Mansur Building. It is the thirty-eighth tallest building in the United States.