Indiana World War Memorial Plaza
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District|
|U.S. National Register of Historic Places|
|U.S. National Historic Landmark District|
File:Indiana Locator Map with US.PNG
|Location:||Bounded by St. Clair, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Meridian Sts., Indianapolis, Indiana|
|Architect:||Walker & Weeks; Henry Hering|
|Architectural style(s):||Art Deco, Beaux-Arts, neoclassical|
|Added to NRHP:||September 25, 1989|
|Designated NHLD:||October 11, 1994|
The Indiana World War Memorial Plaza is an urban feature located in Indianapolis, Indiana, originally built to honor the veterans of World War I. The five-city-block plaza was conceived as a location for the national headquarters of the American Legion and a memorial to the state's and nation's veterans. At the north end of the plaza is the American Legion Mall, which is the site of the administration buildings of the Legion, as well as a memorial cenotaph. South of that is the Veterans Memorial Plaza with its obelisk.
The centerpiece of the plaza is the Indiana World War Memorial, modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Within is a military museum, the Shrine Room, and an auditorium. At the south end is University Park, the oldest part of the plaza, filled with statues and a fountain. On October 11, 1994, the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza was designated a National Historic Landmark District.
The origins of the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza lay in attempts by the city of Indianapolis in 1919 to lure the newly formed American Legion from its temporary headquarters in New York City. The American Legion, chartered by Congress in 1919 after World War I, is an organization of veterans that sponsors youth programs, promotes patriotism and national security, and provides commitment to Americans who have served in the armed forces. With a national convention planned in Minneapolis for November 1919, three Indianapolis veterans wanted to attract the Legion there, already having the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. After lobbying at the convention, the Legion chose Indianapolis due to its central location and patriotism. Although Washington, D.C. received the most votes on the first selection ballot, it was not enough and Indianapolis won the second by 38 votes out of 684.
The city and state then had to provide a location, and one of the promises the city made was to erect a fitting memorial to those who served in World War I. Thus, in January 1920 a public library, St. Clair Park, University Park, and two occupied city blocks were designated for the construction, with one new building for the American Legion to use as their national headquarters, various public buildings, and a war memorial. The July 1920 Indiana War Memorial Bill contributed $2 million for construction and land. Work began in 1921, with the city to pay for the site and maintenance costs, and the state of Indiana to pay for the memorial. The Plaza was dedicated by the Legion in November 1921 with a cornerstone from the bridge over the River Marne at Chateau-Thierry.
Various architects were invited by an appointed War Memorial Board to design a memorial not only intended to honor all who fought in World War I, also to provide meeting places, archives, and offices for the American Legion. The partnership of Walker and Weeks of Cleveland, Ohio was chosen in 1923. Their plan consisted of a main memorial and two auxiliary buildings, an obelisk, a mall, and a cenotaph. Bids for the American Legion building, one of the two auxiliary buildings, were put out in 1925 and construction by the Craig-Curtiss Company began the same year. In style the structure complemented the nearby local library. The other auxiliary building was not constructed until 1950. The Neoclassical design incorporated the existing library, federal building, and University Park. One further building was planned but never built.
The War Memorial and the parks in the plaza form an example of the City Beautiful movement, which supported classical, uniform, and beautiful public architecture. The plaza covers a five-block strip north of Monument Circle between St. Clair, Pennsylvania, New York, and Meridian Streets. In 1989, the plaza was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was named a National Historic Landmark District in 1994. The Historic District also includes the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, immediately north, and the Birch Bayh Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, immediately south. One of the major buildings to the west is the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and to the east is the Minton-Capehart Federal Building.
Today, the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza is a popular location for celebrations like a Fourth of July festival and Veterans Day and Memorial Day services. The Chase Tower, located three blocks south of the Memorial building, has a roof that reflects the Memorial's.
American Legion Mall
The two auxiliary buildings are used by the American Legion. Both buildings were constructed from Indiana limestone in neoclassical style, similar to the public library just to the north. The east building at Meridian and St. Clair, designated building B on the original plan, houses the Indiana Department of the American Legion, as well as the American Legion Auxiliary and the National Forty and Eight. The four-story building held the national headquarters until the second building was completed.
The larger west building at Pennsylvania and St. Clair, building C, is the national headquarters, which deals with the mail, archives, and other internal functions of the Legion; the lobbying efforts of the Legion are based in its Washington, D.C. office. Its two wings each mirror building B and are joined by a recessed center entrance.
Three semi-circular granite memorials commemorate the Hoosiers killed in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, listing their names.
Cenotaph Square is located between the two auxiliary buildings used by the American Legion. It is in a sunken garden, with the rectangular black granite cenotaph centered in it resting upon a base of red and dark green granite. Four shafts of black granite, with gold eagles surmounted on them, mark the corners of the square. The inscription on the north face of the cenotaph memorializes James Bethal Gresham, a Hoosier who was the first member of the American Expeditionary Force to be killed in action in World War I. A native of Evansville, he was a corporal in the 16th Infantry Regiment and was killed at Bathelemont, France on November 3, 1917. The inscription on the south side says "A tribute by Indiana to the hallowed memory of the glorious dead who served in the World War."
Veterans Memorial Plaza
In the plaza south of the Mall is the Veterans Memorial Plaza, also called Obelisk Square, which has an obelisk and fountain. The 100-foot (30 m) black granite obelisk was built in 1923, and the square was completed in 1930. Near the base are 4-foot (1.2 m)-by-8-foot (2.4 m) panels placed in 1929 representing law, science, religion, and education, the fundamentals the nation was founded on. The obelisk rises from a 100-foot diameter, two-level fountain made of pink Georgia marble and terrazzo. The fountain has two basins, spray rings, and multicolored lights. On the east and west sides fly the flags of the fifty states, which were installed in 1976 for the US Bicentennial. They were replaced with the flags of countries of the Americas during the 1987 Pan American Games. The square was originally paved with asphalt, but it was landscaped with grass and trees in 1975.
The War Memorial
Walker & Weeks planned for the Indiana World War Memorial Building to be the plaza's centerpiece, sitting between the federal building and public library. The work for the actual memorial to the veterans of World War I began in early 1926. Five of the seven buildings located on the site had to be demolished before the actual construction commenced; the other two, Second Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church, were not demolished until 1960. General John Pershing laid the cornerstone of the memorial on July 4, 1927, saying he was "consecrating the edifice as a patriotic shrine". Funding problems in 1928 slowed the building of the interior. Even a new contractor in 1931 and $195,000 provided by the Public Works Administration in 1936 did little to speed the process of completing the structure. Although the interior was incomplete, it was dedicated on November 11, 1933 by Governor Paul McNutt and Lt. Gen. Hugh Drum, Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States Army. In 1949 a local newspaper leaked the information that the memorial was already deteriorating, its limestone scaling, paint peeling, leaks forming, and plaster cracking; further reports were published in 1961. Despite proposals to instead develop the area, the memorial and surrounding landscaping were finally finished in 1965.
The memorial is based upon the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At 210 feet (64 m) tall it is approximately seventy-five feet taller than the original Mausoleum. The blue lights which shine between columns on the side of the War Memorial make the monument easy to spot. It is the most imposing Neoclassical structure in Indianapolis due to its scale and size.
The cubical structure clad in unrelieved ashlar Indiana limestone on a high lightly rusticated base is topped with a low pyramidal roof that sheathes its interior dome. It stands on a raised terrace approached by a wide monumental stair. The structure has four identical faces. On each face an Ionic screen of six columns, behind which are tall banks of windows, is surmounted by symbolic standing figures designed by Henry Hering: Courage, Memory, Peace, Victory, Liberty, and Patriotism. The sculptures are repeated on each façade. On the south side, standing on a pink granite base in the center of the grand access stairs, is Hering's colossal exultant male nude bronze Pro Patria (1929); it is 24 feet (7.3 m) high, weighs seven tons, and was the largest cast bronze sculpture in the United States.
The north and south entrances are guarded by shield-bearing limestone lions, and on each corner of the terrace sits an urn. The pyramidal roof is stepped and has a lantern on top. Above the tall bronze doors on each side is the inscription "To vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world." On the north side is the building's main inscription:
|“||To commemorate the valor and sacrifice of the land, sea and air forces of the United States and all who rendered faithful and loyal service at home and overseas in the World War; to inculcate a true understanding and appreciation of the privileges of American citizenship; to inspire patriotism and respect for the laws to the end that peace may prevail, justice be administered, public order maintained and liberty perpetuated.||”|
Indiana World War Memorial Military Museum
The main entrance is on the north façade, where inside are Tennessee marble floors and Art Deco Egyptian themes. The museum is housed mainly on the lower level of the monument and honors the efforts of Hoosier soldiers in a timeline from the American Revolutionary War and the Battle of Tippecanoe to modern conflicts. World War I and World War II are especially featured. Aside from firearms, it features an Apache helicopter, a Navy Terrier missile, and the USS Indiana's commission plate. There are over 400 military flags housed in the museum, more than 300 of which are from the American Civil War. Also in the museum is Indiana's Liberty Bell replica of the kind given to each state by the federal government in 1950 to encourage the purchase of savings bonds.
Further museum exhibits are displayed on the main level of the monument. An exhibit replicating the radio room of the USS Indianapolis that includes original equipment from World War II opened on November 7, 2009. The Grand Foyer main level features the 500-seat Pershing Auditorium, built and decorated with materials donated from several states and World War I allies. The memorial also has three 75-person meeting rooms on the main level; these rooms were originally named in honor of General George Patton, General Douglas MacArthur, and Admiral Chester Nimitz. In 2009, the rooms were renamed in honor of Hoosier veterans: Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, General David M. Shoup, and Major Samuel Woodfill.
Above the main level is the Shrine Room, nearly a vertical double cube, 110 ft (34 m) high and 60 ft (18 m) on a side, clad in materials collected from all the allied nations of World War I. Accessed by two staircases from the Grand Foyer, the Shrine Room's American Pavonazzo marble walls bear the names of all Hoosiers who fought in World War I and those who were killed or missing in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. On the east and west sides are paintings by Walter Brough of the leading soldiers of France,America, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, and Serbia. Surrounding the room are sculptor Frank Jirouch's marble frieze depicting events of World War I.  At the center of the space, beneath a giant hanging 17-foot (5.2 m)-by-30-foot (9.1 m) American flag, is the Altar of Consecration, flanked at the corners with cauldrons on tripod stands. Above the flag is the Star of Destiny, made of Swedish crystal, representing the future of the nation.
University Park occupies the southernmost block of the plaza. It was originally meant to be the site of a state university, but this never occurred. Instead, it was the site of churches, a high school, and a training ground for Union soldiers. In 1876 after the Civil War, it was transformed into a city park. Surrounding the square are statues of Benjamin Harrison on the south side, designed by Henry Bacon and Charles Niehaus; seated Abraham Lincoln in the southeast corner, designed by Henry Hering in 1934; and Schuyler Colfax on the east side, designed by Lorado Taft in 1887. There are also sculptures of Pan and the nymph Syrinx designed by Myra Reynolds Richards in 1923. University Park was redesigned in 1914 by George Kessler for a park and boulevard system he had developed for Indianapolis, which included a fountain at the center. Street lamps on the walkways have acorn globes and fluted shafts, and two of them decorated with lions' heads stand on the backs of metal turtles.
The Depew Memorial Fountain is a free standing fountain completed in 1919. It is composed of multiple bronze figures arranged on a five-tier granite stone base with three basins. The bronze sculptures depict fish, eight children dancing, and a woman on the topmost tier dancing and playing cymbals. The dimensions are approximately 25 x 45 x 45 feet (14 m).
The fountain was commissioned in memory of Dr. Richard J. Depew by his wife, Emma Ely, following Dr. Depew's death in 1887. When Mrs. Depew died in 1913, she had bequeathed $50,000 from her estate to the city of Indianapolis for the erection of a fountain in memory of her husband "in some park or public place where all classes of people may enjoy it." The original design was created by Karl Bitter, who was killed in a traffic accident in 1915 before the work could be finished. Following Bitter’s overall design, Alexander Stirling Calder created the bronze figures and the fountain. Landscape architect Henry Bacon designed the fountain’s setting.
A memorial plaque on south side of the large granite basin that reads "Depew Memorial Fountain. A gift to Indianapolis from Emma Ely Depew in memory of her husband Richard Johnson Depew M.D. whose long and honorable life was spent in untiring service to his fellow men."
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- ^ "Indiana War Memorial Exterior - Pro Patria". State of Indiana. http://www.in.gov/iwm/2392.htm. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- ^ "Replicas of the Liberty Bell Owned by US State Governments". Liberty Bell Museum. http://www.libertybellmuseum.com/exhibits/statebells/index.htm. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Indiana World War Memorial Plaza|
- National Park Service site on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza
- Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District