At The Ruins

What’s left of the St. Paul Building
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Some years ago Margaret and I visited Manhattan. We walked from our hotel on 56th St. near Central Park, out to the Hudson River and then south along the walking paths all the way to the World Trade Center and the Financial District. We lingered at St. Paul’s Chapel and its memorial to 9/11. Read about it here.

From 1898 to 1958, an early skyscraper named after the chapel stood across the street. The St. Paul Building had 26 stories and was 315 feet tall — and was regarded by many as ungainly, even ugly. Few tears were shed upon its demolition.

This is its facade. Look closely, and you can just make out ghost letters spelling ST. PAUL BUILDING over its columns. It stands in Holliday Park, a large, lovely park on the Northside of Indianapolis. It’s part of an installation called The Ruins, which recently completed a renovation.

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18 responses to “single frame: What’s left of the St. Paul Building”

  1. brandib1977 Avatar

    I have got to visit this place. How lovely!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s a short history of the park with a bunch more photos:

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        What a wonderful story! I love how it came to exist and that this park still is here for generations to enjoy.

        I have been contemplating an Indiana trip this summer and have a few things in mind but haven’t committed to a route, dates, or any goals. Tell me, are you familiar with Indiana Dunes? Is it worth going that far north? I’ve never been to that part of the state but suspect there’s a lot to see in the towns up along the lake.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’ve explored some of the Dunes area. It’s really lovely and worth the visit. If you go, be sure to see Beverly Shores.

          1. brandib1977 Avatar

            Thanks!! I wrote that down. I’m interested in the James Dean and Garfield stuff but also would like to have a couple of days in Indianapolis. I could go up one way and back the other and just make a triangle. It’s tempting to just set out without a plan and see where the wind blows. Sometimes those are the best trips.

        2. Jim Grey Avatar

          Agreed. I like to set a framework of possibilities but then when I’m on the ground, follow my nose.

          1. brandib1977 Avatar

            It’s so liberating too!

        3. Michael Avatar

          If you like nature and some hiking, you should visit Turkey Run and Shades State Parks, which are near each other in the west-central part of the state. Shades is less crowded but has the Devil’s Backbone you can cross.

          1. brandib1977 Avatar

            Thanks for the recommendation! I added it to my list.

  2. Michael Avatar

    Any idea why they moved it so far rather than keeping it somewhere near NYC?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m under the impression that nobody wanted it; they were going to simply demolish the building and be done with it. Then the guy who designed The Ruins showed up and said he wanted it.

  3. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, there is a paragraph in Wikipedia about the facade and its journey to Indy.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the link!

  4. tbm3fan Avatar

    Critics called the St. Paul Building one of New York’s most unattractive buildings. Too bad those critics weren’t alive when the Western Electric Building went up as that building is definitely BLAH as many were from that era. Flat boring uniform facade with windows…BLAH!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There was a time when flat, modern buildings were the hip thing, and old buildings like St. Paul were considered eyesores. We lost scores of old buildings during that time.

      1. tbm3fan Avatar

        There was a period at San Diego State where a new math building and biology building went up. Two story flat facade rectangles in off white. The old campus was built by the WPA using Spanish style design in stucco. Later into the mid-70s, when the new main library went in, across from the old quad, did it’s design incorporate that Spanish influence. Meshed much better. Thankfully those other two buildings were out on the fringe of the campus seen mainly from the freeway below.

  5. M.B. Henry Avatar

    Wow that’s a really cool picture. It’s too bad old buildings like that have to get torn down. I googled pictures of the whole thing and it didn’t look ugly to me! To each their own I guess :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wouldn’t call it especially beautiful, but no, it wasn’t ugly either!

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