Lemcke Building, circa 1910. Note Deschler’s Cigars on the first floor. HistoricIndianapolis.com collection
Hard to believe it, but under the shiny meh exterior of at the northeast corner of Market and Pennsylvania, is a structure built at the same time as the aptly named Majestic Building.
In February 1895, tenants of the building at the northeast corner of Penn and Market received notice to vacate by May 1. The building’s owner, Julius A. Lemcke was gearing up to tear down the three-story building in favor of a newer six-story building. An October 1895 article touted the “fine office building” of brick and stone being erected, conjecturing that it might be eight stories in height. Other downtown buildings in the construction process at the time included the Scottish Rite (next to The Majestic), the Indiana Trust Company and Pembroke Arcade.
A couple days before Christmas 1895, news appeared that one new local project for 1896 would be the seven-story iron framework Lemcke project on the northeast corner of Penn and Market across from the post office–which formerly stood on the southeast corner.
The same paper listed the cost of the building at $106, 750 (estimated to cost more than $3 million dollars today) The winning contractor for the project was the ubiquitous W. P. Jungclaus Company.
In March 1896, the upper floors were almost ready for their close-up, or new tenants, as the case may be, and even though as yet unfinished, out of 200+ offices, there were only 20 still available to lease. The building housed many lawyers, insurance men and loan and real estate agents.
A mere ten years later, in March 1906, papers were filed to add an additional three floors were added to the building, and an enhanced entrance built on the Market Street side. At the same time, a new staircase and additional electric elevators were added to the building. R. P. Daggett & Company prepared the “plans for the improvement,” which included mahogany woodwork throughout the three new floors. The contractor hired to do the work was done by Westlake Construction Company of St. Louis, Missouri.
Julius A. Lemcke was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1832, and he immigrated to Posey County, Indiana in 1848, and Evansville in 1854. During the Civil War, he served as a Captain under General Grant and General Sheridan, patrolling the Ohio River and others.
Lemcke moved to Indianapolis in 1887 when he was elected state treasurer, and remained a resident of Indiana’s capital city the rest of his life. Upon the election of President Benjamin Harrison, Lemcke was offered the position of United States Treasurer, which Lemcke politely declined.
Called “Gus” by his closest friends, he had many local friends, and some from his native land of Germany, including the designer of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Bruno Schmitz, stayed with Lemcke when he visited Indianapolis, checking progress of decorations encircling his famous “shaft of stone.”
In September 1967, John M. LaRosa purchased the Lemcke Building from the Lemcke heirs for $3.5 million dollars. He skinned the building, stripping everything historic but the floors from the building. The bones may be the same, but the lady’s had an identity change. Originally, LaRosa planned a five-story addition to the building, which clearly, did not happen.
In 1975, the building went into receivership and purchased by Investors Trust, renaming the building after the new company.
When the National Bank of Indianapolis was formed in 1993, they moved into the building. The bank is still headquartered there.