When the L.S. Ayres Department Store opened in 1905,
it was the first true department store in the city, with a different
department on each of its eight floors. At a time when the shipping
of merchandise from the coasts was, at best, time consuming,
the store had dressmakers for the ladies and furniture and frame-makers
located on the premises. As the store grew, it expanded its customer
base by having merchandise available for people from a wide
economic spectrum, including a basement store for the more
budget conscious buyer.
The clock was added to the front corner of the building in 1936.
Weighing 10,000 pounds, the clock quickly became a familiar symbol
of the store, viewed each week by an estimated half million people.
In 1946, one of the store's advertising artists suggested that
the Ayres Christmas catalog be decorated with drawings of cherubs;
at the end of World War II consumer manufacturing was still
sparse and the catalog needed something to fill empty pages.
The cherub was so popular that its image returned to the catalog
in 1947, while a bronze recreation was perched on the clock
on Thanksgiving Eve. Created by Indianapolis sculptor,
David Rubins, the 3-foot tall cherub watched over Christmas shoppers
until late Christmas Eve, when it disappeared to allow Santa Claus
to perform his duties. The Cherub performed admirably until 1992,
when it was taken to the May Company executive offices in St. Louis.
Public outcry was such that May Company executives finally relented
and donated the Cherub to the custody of Downtown Indianapolis
in 1994, returning it to its annual vigil.