The Indianapolis American Legion Plaza Headquarters is located in the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District in downtown Indianapolis. The plaza and monument were originally intended to pay tribute towards the Indiana veterans of WWI, and now honors all veterans from any conflict since then. The district is a defined six block area of Indianapolis and consists of monuments, buildings, and landscape architecture.
The district is a nationally significant area honoring the Indiana veterans of foreign wars, and also serves as national headquarters for the American Legion and its auxiliary and affiliated organizations. The area began as a city beautification project with the beautification civil planning movement of the early 1900’s. The concern at the time was making some sort of order out of the chaotic urban environment. This movement would continue nationwide until WWII.
The overall planning for the plaza project would develop over the span of several decades, and would include the incorporation of two existing structures, the Federal Building at the south end, and the Indianapolis Public Library at the north end of the plaza. A City Planning Committee set aside two city blocks for the headquarters, which included the Second Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church, the Indianapolis Elks Lodge, and office buildings. These two designated blocks, along with St. Clair Park and the public library to the north and University Park to the south, would provide a five block civic plaza.
The formal setting of the American Legion Plaza Headquarters, along with the neoclassical design and civic center concept, went along with the City Beautification Movement of the time. Many cities nationwide had gone along with this urban transformation trend, and many cities share the architecture and formal design of clean classic lines and formal settings for government buildings.
The two-story limestone building to house the American Legion Plaza Headquarters began construction in 1925 under the management of the Craig-Curtis Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The building displays the standard neoclassical architecture of the time, similar to that of the original Marion County Public Library directly to the north. An auxillary American Legion building would later be constructed in 1950 to complete the space needed to properly house the American Legion headquarters.
Also located in the sunken garden between the two legion buildings is Cenotaph Square, a memorial dedicated to soldiers fallen in war. Made of black granite, the cenotaph rests on a base of dark green and red granite, completed by shafts with eagles posted on top. Work began in 1926 on the World War Memorial, and would not see completion until 1965 due to a delay in state funds to fund the project.
Today, the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District in downtown Indianapolis is a key focal point to the downtown landscape. In addition to commemorating those who have fought in wars, the plaza hosts many events and gatherings throughout the year. The American Legion National Headquarters is housed in the auxiliary building at the corner of Pennsylvania and St. Claire, and serves the Legion’s mail, archive, and various other internal function needs.
For more information on the Indianapolis American Legion Plaza Headquarters, please visit the American Legion Indiana homepage.
American Legion Plaza Headquarters
700 N Pennsylvania St
Indianapolis, IN 46204