The Ruins at Holliday Park
If you chanced on these odd ruins in the middle of an Indianapolis park, you might think you were looking at a former estate, or the remains of a particularly grand park building. The truth about the Ruins at Holliday Park is quite a bit more interesting.
It starts in 1898, when an early skyscraper–26 stories tall!– was built in New York City.
Named the St. Paul building, it featured a set of three atlantes sculptures by Karl Bitter titled “The Races of Man,” depicting an African, Asian, and Caucasian straining to hold up the building together.
Bitter was no amateur: he was also responsible for parts of the facade at NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and multiple statues at Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
In the 1950s, when Western Electric made plans to demolish the St. Paul building for a larger building, they fortunately recognized the value of the sculptures, and held a competition for their re-use. Indianapolis’ plans to place the statues on a reproduction of the building facade in Holliday Park won. This began a project that took twenty years to complete, thanks in part to artist Elmer Taflinger’s constant redesigns.
Finally completed in 1973, The Ruins had fallen into disrepair by the time I first found this Atlas Obscura article about them. A fence had been erected to keep out vandals, and the monument was overgrown with weeds. I admit I hoped to visit this wild version of The Ruins, however, by the time they came onto my radar, plan to revitalize them were already in progress.
What you’re looking at in my photographs is the recently completed restoration. Too few weeds, and bit too clean to facilitate my Indiana Jones fantasies, but gorgeous and absolutely worth a visit!