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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Indy Ayres: 1905

Indy Ayres: 1905

Circa 1905. "The Ayres Building, Indianapolis, Indiana." The L.S. Ayres & Co. department store. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

re: Everybody Jump!

Actually seconds after the near-miss, since 406 is traveling away from 407.

Now a conference facility

The upper floors of the old Ayers building have been converted to offices. I worked there in the mid-2000s. Interestingly, the actual space that was the Tea Room is still there -- now part of a conference facility.

In the reproduction Tea Room at the Indiana State Museum, they photographed the view outside the original Tea Room (Barnes & Thornburg building) and put them outside the photo outside the new imitation windows at the museum. It really feels like being in the old Tea Room!

Everybody jump!

This photo was taken seconds before the famous streetcar crash between #406 and #407.

Come visit the Store

A large section of the facade of the L.S. Ayres building, two floors tall and all the classic stonework, is integrated with an inner wall of the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. It's the face of the Museum's L.S. Ayres Tea Room, which is a working replica of the Store's original tea room

Tons of pictures

Google Images has an extensive set of pics of this store through the years. This site has an interesting history.

New Ownership

Now a Carson Pirie Scott store. LS Ayres was Indiana's premier department store until it was bought out by Macy's. But then, every department store will eventually be Macy's.

Fireplugs just don't move.

Turning back the clock

The Ayres store in downtown Indianapolis closed in 1992, and the L.S. Ayres name vanished in 2006 when it became Macy's. A Carson Pirie Scott store now occupies part of the building, which still looks much the same as in 1905.

A bronze cherub statue commissioned in 1947 by Ayres has adorned the corner clock during each Christmas season since, except for 1993 when the May Company (Ayres' owner at the time) removed the statue to its St. Louis HQ after closing the downtown store. The public outcry compelled the May Company to donate the statue permanently to Indianapolis Downtown Inc.


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Some Ayres notes

The building still stands, although its elaborate interior has been altered and the building became part of the Circle Centre Mall complex. The lower 3 floors are now occupied by Macy's. The top floors are now office space.

The building underwent expansions in 1914 and 1928, and the north facade grew from 3 to 6 windows along Washington Street.

The architect for this structure, Bernard Vonnegut, was the great-grandfather of author Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Farther south, you can see the Commercial Club building. The dates of these two photos, both "circa 1905," must be a few years apart as they show a much different corner building at Pearl Street (which separates the Commercial Club from the Ayres building). The three-story building across Pearl from the Commercial Club does not appear in the Ayres photo, and the Ayres building extends all the way to Pearl.

The photo below shows the Ayres building from nearly the same direction (but from 28 stories up). You can see the building from which the 1905 picture was made.

Ayres closed in 1989 and with the new mall completed, the building reopened under the Parisian name in 1994. Later it changed to Carson Pirie Scot and then to Macy's.

The curved, modern limestone-faced building in the lower center stands where these ADT Messengers once parked their bicycles.

Ayres History

The plaque on the side of the building reads:

When constructed in 1905, the Ayres Building was the first modern, fireproof department store in the city. Located at 1 West Washington Street and designed by the local architectural firm of Vonnegut & Bohn, the store was enlarged in 1914, 1928, and 1946. Founder Lyman S. Ayres (1824-1896) had been a leading dry goods retailer in the state since opening his first store on Washington Street in 1872. A family owned business for three generations, the department store founded many of the great traditions of downtown Indianapolis, such as the Ayres Tea Room, Santa Land, the Ayres Clock, and the Christmas cherub. L. S. Ayres & Company vacated its historic headquarters in 1992. The building was rehabilitated and integrated into Circle Centre.

 
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