One of the most common WTH’s that we find are the cases where we think, “What the hell, they tore down that for this???” Quite often, this reaction is caused by the “this” being a parking lot, vacant lot, or similar under-utilized area. “Open space” is a term used by architects for the latter, which means that it is a step up from a vacant lot in terms of landscaping, but usually not much more than a few trees inserted into holes in the concrete pavement.

So, today we begin an occasional series looking at these cases that make one wonder “What the hell, a parking lot/vacant lot/open space is better than that, why?”

The first example is the former Indiana National Bank, 3 Virginia Ave, located in the apex of Virginia and Pennsylvania Street. It was originally built in 1896, with additions in 1912, 1935, 1950, and 1958. Here are photos of the building from the Historic American Buildings Survey. Except for the first image (c. 1915), these photos were taken immediately prior to the building being demolished in August 1970.

inb-1915 front-1970 front2-1970

interior-1970 interior2-1970

[Updated] Here are photos of the building demolition, from the IUPUI/Indiana Landmarks digital collection. Not for the faint-of-heart…

Looking south from near the intersection
Another view to the south

Looking southeast along Pennsylvania

Heartbreaking view into the center from overhead

After demolition, an “open space” was created in the building’s place. Initially, it was merely an entirely concrete “plaza”, then a fountain was added in the concrete, then some trees added to shade the concrete. Very recently, the concrete has been remodeled with more trees and outside seating for an eatery. A better looking concrete garden now than it was 40 years ago, but still, “what the h*ll?”


Owing to the poor weather the last few days, here is the Google streetview from 2010.