INDIANAPOLIS – As Derek Slagle explored the Indiana Soldiers and Sailor Monument this week, he was undeterred by the cold temperatures as he snapped photographs.
“The whole city revolves around it,” Slagle said, marveling at the structure that dominates the Indianapolis landscape.
The monument has been the center of Indianapolis since 1902 when it was built to honor the Indiana soldiers and sailors of several wars. This month, U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel named the monument to the list of National Historic Landmarks.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Slagle, a photographer and a professor in Kansas City. “I’m surprised it wasn’t one.”
The National Historic Landmark program identifies “the best of the best” properties.
“When I think about the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, I go way back in history when I was a little boy, and my mom and I would go shopping,” Indiana Statehouse tour guide, Jim Johnson, said. “We always walked around the circle and I remember seeing this beautiful tall monument in the middle.”
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is the official memorial for all the soldiers from Indiana who fought for the United States in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
Johnson went into detail about where the monument was built.
“As president, Benjamin Harrison, came here in the 1880’s to help break the ground for the monument,” Johnson said. “Where the monument sits was the site of the first governor’s mansion. Alexander Ralston, who designed Indianapolis, put that circle in the middle.”
Johnson said that the monument, at 284.6 feet, is the tallest Civil War memorial in America. Visitors can ride an elevator and climb 31 steps to reach its observation level.
“You can always use the monument as a geographical center,” Johnson said.
When it was dedicated in 1902, it cost a little less than $600,000. If the monument were built today, it would cost more than $500 million.
Indianapolis and its monument and the city have left a lasting impression on Slagle, who was visiting with his wife.
“Indianapolis is a beautiful city,” Slagle said. “I’m really blown away.”
Alexa Freeman is a reporter for TheStateHouse.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.