My husband spent the week in Indi for business and suggested I join him for a night after I finished my work week. This is a little over 2 hour drive from home so after working all night .. got about 2 hours sleep and headed to Indi. We stayed at the Hampton downtown and the Monument Circle is easy walking distance from the hotel .. also walking distance for shopping and restaurants. We lucked out on weather .. record warm for Dec .. in the low 60's which is about 40 degrees warmer than usual. So on the way to dinner we enjoyed the holiday décor of the monument. very pretty and carriage tours.
It is probably appropriate that the Indiana State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument – completed in 1901 – was designed by Bruno Schmitz, one of Germany’s leading architects of grand public monuments. Most of the work, sculptures and bronze work, were also German designed and created. German-Americans were very important in the development of 19th century Indiana – you can still spot the occasional Turnerverein halls on the streets.
The monument was raised to honor all Indianans who died in wars before World War I, but especially to commemorate her Civil War dead. Soaring 285 feet above from a massive base, the monument is placed on the spot where the governor’s mansion once stood. The mansion was never lived in however and was demolished in 1857 replaced by a park ten years later. The monument is the largest Civil War monument that was erected. Plans for the monument were first contemplated by Indiana governor Oliver Morton who served during the Civil War years. His statue stood in the middle of the circular park on which the monument would be erected. It was in the years after Morton’s death that the planning and financing for the monument started gathering steam with the gathering of a commission in 1887 and the ensuing selection of Schmitz’s design one year later. The shaft was completed in 1892 and the bronze astragals – one for the navy and one for the army – followed in 1895. Finally, the massive sculpture groups were added before the monument was officially dedicated in 1902. Originally, the thought was for the monument to be topped with a winged version of Victory but engineers were worried winds might literally give flight to the statue, so Victory – aka Miss Indiana – stands in a less active pose atop it all.
There is an elevator which with you can eliminate 300 stairs -$2 – but you still have to use the final 31 stairs to come out on the observation deck above. In the base of the monument is the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum which was opened in 1999. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.
At the time of my visit, the monument was enfolded in scaffolding for an ongoing restoration project.
Every year the Friday night after thanksgiving the city of Indianapolis presents The Circle of Lights. It's best to arrive early around 6pm. The show begins around 7pm, which is local talent singing Christmas songs. Then around 8/8.30pm Santa arrives on an old time fire truck. Santa is the presenter that lights up the lights that surround the monument. The crowd is very large and it tends to be very cold. Fortunately, there are places to buy coffee and hot chocolate on the circle. I'd recommend the hot chocolate from the Indiana chocolate company, The South Bend Chocolate Factory. It beats Starbucks on the opposite corner!
On the south side of the circle are a chocolate shop and outdoor cafe. While on the east side is a substantial high rise art deco structure worthy of note for it's curve that matches the Memorial Circle. Known as the Circle Tower, this 17 story tall structure dates back to the 1930's when it became the tallest building on Monument Circle. Again, checking out the interior of this building is on my short list for the next visit to town.
The Monument on Monument Circle is dedicated to the veterans of the American Civil War. It was completed in 1902 and stands 284' (87m) tall. Underneath is the Col. Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. It is an excellent museum of Indiana's involvement in the war. You can ride the elevator to the top of the momument (rain or shine) and look over the city. It's nicer when the sun is out, or atleast not raining.
National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors National Historic Register Site
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is a 284-feet tall neoclassical oolitic limestone and bronze monument in the center of Indianapolis, Indiana (and Marion County, Indiana). It was erected to honor Hoosiers who were veterans of the American Revolution, territorial conflicts that partially led up to the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the US Civil War. It was designed by German architect Bruno Schmitz, and was completed in 1901. In addition to its external commemorative statuary and fountains, the basement of the monument is a museum of Indiana history during the American Civil War. (*thanks to Wikipedia for monument History)
This is a great place to have some coffee and just people watch. The area is really beautiful. I think that the South side of the circle is the nicest view, the north side is littered with banks and a kinkos. In my opinion, the cirlce should have more cute little cafes or stores, I saw that a au bon pain is being built, so that should be nice.
The musuem under the monument is nice, it is small, I would only go on the free day, because it isn't so exciting. The best part is that you can go into the monument and take the elevator to the top and see a really cool view. If you are clasophobic, then i would recommend that you don't go up. It is quite a tight experience.
Right now, during November they are getting the decorations for the circle ready, it is a big deal here. And it takes about the whole month of November to get it ready. but in the summer, the monument is very lovely. The fountains are huge, and it is a great place to listen to the water and relax.
Please click photo to see the details
The Soldiers & Sailors Monument is to Indianapolis as the Arch is to St. Louis.
It was erected in 1887-1901 of ashlar limestone and is dedicated to the 24,000 "Hoosiers" who gave their lives in the Civil War. It was designed by the German Architect, Bruno Schmitz There was an international design competition, and Schmitz won. He designed the monument as the city's focal point and as a gathering place. He succeeded!
The monument incorporates sculpture by 4 people, Rudolf Schwarz, Frederick William MacMonnies, George Thomas Brewster, & Nicolaus Geiger. It was fabricated by the Terre Haute Stone Company.
Private funds were collected, but most of the cost was paid for with public funds.
This structure is about 284 feet high, but with the statue called Victory standing atop it, that measurement increases. I discovered that most "Hoosiers" call Victory "Miss Indiana"!
My brother Dustin (who lives in Indianapolis) tells me that The Soldiers & Sailors Monument is decorated with thousands and thousands of small Christmas Tree Lights each Christmas season, and it is thus transformed into one of the world's largest Christmas trees!"
Jill and I rode the small elevator to the to step 290 and walked to the glass-enclosed observation deck. (the 330 stair walk was closed) Too bad the windows as filthy dirty so it's difficult to enjoy the panoramic view of downtown Indianapolis and impossible to take a photo.
It was impossible for me to take a photograph that encompassed the entire monument; I would have needed much more sophisticated equipment.
My two photos show details of the monument.
The Bank One Tower is the tallest building in Indiana. The 48-story building is the most recognizable on the Indianapolis skyline. It holds over 905,000 sq. ft. of office space and is made of granite and glass. It was built in 1990.
At the southwest corner of Monument Circle sits the James Whitcomb statue by John H. Mahoney.
Whitcomb (1795-1852) was a former governor of Indiana. He was very elegant and brilliant. Under his leadership, the Indiana Hospital for the Insane, Indiana Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Indiana Institute for the Education of the Blind were created (great politically correct names, I might add). He resigned as governor in 1848 to serve in the US Senate.
The plaque reads:
James Whitcomb. Governor of Indiana. Mexican War Period. 1846-1847.
At the northwest corner of Monument Circle sits the George Rogers Clark statue by John H. Mahoney.
Clark (1752-1818) was a general who protected settlers from the British and Indians. His brother, William, was of Lewis and Clark fame.
The plaque reads:
General George Rogers Clark. Conqueror of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio from the British. 1778-9.
On the northeast side of the monument stands a statue of William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) by John H. Mahoney.
Harrison was a general and served as governor of Indiana for 12 years beginning in 1801. He led troops to victory against the Indian Confederacy and Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1812, earning himself the nickname "Tippecanoe". He was a popular candidate for President in 1840 and defeated Martin van Buren in the election. He died after only a few months in office, making him the shortest serving President.
The plaque reads:
William H. Harrison. Conqueror of the Indian Confederacy. War 1812-1815.
4 bronze statues of important figures in Indiana history surround the base of the monument.
At the southeast corner is the statue of Oliver P. Morton, by Franklin Simmons. Morton (1823-1877) was the governor of Indiana during the Civil War and was very popular for his efforts to care for soldiers.
The plaque reads:
Oliver P. Morton. "The War Governor" of Indiana. War of the Rebellion. 1861-1865.
See the following tips for info about the rest of the statues.