War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis

The War Memorial Plaza, located at 431 N. Meridian Street, is a seven-block historic district dedicated to veterans of WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam. It begins just north of the post office and Monument Circle and continues to St. Clair Street. The buildings in the Plaza were built as a part of the beautification of Indianapolis early in the 20th century. In the center of this huge area stands the magnificent limestone and granite World War Memorial. The actual construction began in 1926, but it was not completed until 1965. Rising approximately 210’ from a block above street level, the Memorial resembles the Greek architecture of the 5th century, with a square shaped tower, stone columns, and a pyramidal dome topped by a lantern. Between each of the five windows on each side of the tower are six sculptures above the six Ionic columns, representing Courage, Memory, Peace, Victory, Liberty, and Patriotism. Facing University Park on the south steps stands the 24’ bronze statue Pro Patria “for country” on a pink granite base. The statue, designed by Henry Hering in 1929 and the largest of its kind at the time, features a young man wrapped in an American flag reaching toward heaven.

Through the double leaf bronze entrance doors, visitors enter the main hallway of Tennessee marble floors, Neshobe Gray marble walls, and decorated plaster beams leading to the Grand Foyer. Here are more marble floors, walls and columns of Verde Antique marble, and plaster ceilings. To the east and west of the Foyer are the two staircases leading to the Shrine Room on the upper level. The Shrine Room focuses on the real purpose and spirit of the Memorial, with the American flag hanging from the center of the 110’ x 60’ square room and a Swedish crystal Star of Destiny placed just above, indicating guidance toward worldwide peace. Below the flag is the Altar of Consecration, an altar to the patriotism and valor of all those who fought, sacrificed, and perished in WWI. Twenty-four columns are made of Vermont red marble, representing the blood that was shed in this “Great War.”” The columns, supporting the massive ceiling, are set closely together to symbolize a line of defense and protection. A frieze, sculpted by Frank Jirouch, surrounds the room on all four walls, with each wall telling a story. The north wall depicts the Americans joining the allies, the east and west portray the battle itself, and the south wall is the final tribute to the worldwide peace that was won. In addition, portraits of the Allied Commanders from America, France, England, Belgium, Italy, and Serbia, painted by Mr. Walter Brough, are displayed in the Shrine Room.

The middle floor, or main floor, of the Memorial houses the Pershing Auditorium, which can accommodate 500 people within the marble interior and walls and ceilings of Gustavino acoustical tile. The Auditorium, along with the Patton and Macarthur meeting rooms and exhibit space, are available for rent by the public. The names of all Hoosiers who fought in WWI, as well as those who were killed or declared missing in action from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, are listed on this floor, as well. On the lower level, visitors can explore one of the two Indiana War Memorial Museums. The military museum houses a detailed history of Indiana from the Battle of Tippecanoe through each war up to the present day. The history includes military firearms, a Korean War helicopter, the commission plate of the U.S.S. Indiana, a Navy Terrier missile, and many other artifacts, documents, and photographs.

Other buildings in the War Memorial Plaza include the national headquarters and American Legion Mall in the northeast corner, as well as separate memorials for the soldiers from Indiana who were killed in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

Hours: Open 9:00 a.m. — 5: 00 p.m., Wednesday — Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday, and national holidays. Admission is free.
Tours and Groups: Ph: 317-232-7615 for reservations.

Comments are closed.