Yesterday I strolled away from my usual path to explore the renovations being done to buildings along Washington Street. When I moved to the city in 1978, the Indianapolis downtown area was, if not exactly dead, comatose, bedraggled and drab. Over the years, huge progress has been made to develop and to restore the downtown area to make it more attractive to shoppers, visitors, investors, et cetera.
A large part of this effort has involved saving the older buildings and restoring them for use. In some cases this was not possible, but the buildings' facades were rescued then incorporated into new construction. Among these buildings are the Circle Centre Mall and the Emmis Communications offices on Monument Circle. The result has been eye-pleasing facades that appear to provide a rhythm and texture to what would otherwise be drab walls.
|McQuat Building during its restoration in 2010,|
looking like it's wearing a puffy ski jacket
The McQuat Building interests me because it was, in turn, a McDonald's then a Burger Chef when I first was working downtown. For years, it's been vacant, the black metal exoskeleton that covered it becoming increasingly unsightly as the years passed. Recently, it was purchased and restoration efforts have given it a new and beautiful lease on life. Originally built in 1901 by brothers Andrew and William McQuat to house their furnace and tinware business, the new owners plan for the building to be used for retail on the first two floors, with residential apartments in the remaining space. Look at the old girl now! With it's exoskeleton and "puffy jacket" removed, the beautiful lines of its cast-iron facade are once again revealed.
|The restored exterior of the McQuat Building|
reveals the lines of its original cast-iron facade
The building's simpler lines provide excellent company and counterbalance to its neighbor at 22 East Washington Street, which houses Red's Classic Barber Shop. All around the neighborhood, facades that have long hidden beautiful buildings with ugly attempts to "update" them, are being stripped away. About the only good thing about these coverings is the notion that they may have saved the original surfaces from some of the ravages of smog and chemical pollution.
When the weather cools a bit, I will make another effort to take additional pictures of some of the other buildings. In the mean time ...
Oh, my! They are pretty!
|Detail of the building at 22 East Washington Street,|
which houses Red's Classic Barber Shop
Oh, yeah, before I forget, the first photo is of the shattered glass in the door of another restoration in process. Could this be a visual interpretation of having "the scales fall from one's eyes?" Once gone, that door will not be missed.