Holliday Park sits about five miles north of Indianapolis, and it is where you will find ruins of a long forgotten building. The strange thing is they are not remnants of an Indiana building but one that stood on Broadway Street in New York City. The twenty-six story St. Paul building was one of the tallest buildings in New York when it was constructed in 1898.
By the 1950s, it had become outdated and slated for demolition to make way for a new skyscraper. Above the entrance to the historic building were three sculptures created by Austrian artist Carl Bitter. At the time of demolition, they were estimated to be worth $150,000. They were titled “The Races of Man”, which depicted three men—one Caucasian, one African-American and one Asian—supporting the base of the building. Several people and organizations came forward asking for the sculptures to save them from the landfill.
Western Electric, which owned the building, requested proposals of final displays of the statutes. It was artist Elmer Taflinger’s concept for an installation he called “The Ruins” that won over Western Electric, and they donated the sculptures to Indianapolis. Years went by as Taflinger gathered other architectural details and components from Indianapolis buildings that were demolished. He obtained 26 Greek columns salvaged from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent and four statues of goddesses that had stood above the entrance to the Marion County Courthouse before it was demolished.
Working for years on the project, the mayor became concerned in 1970 that the sculptures would be returned back to New York. The project was ordered completed and dedicated in 1973. The art installation stood for years but over time fell into disrepair and truly became ruins. The reflecting pool leaked and all the water was drained. The gardens and landscaping became overgrown, and the bricks were falling out, making it dangerous. By 2013, the Ruins were fenced off and threatened with demolition. The nonprofit Friends of Holliday Park raised $3.2 million and were able to renovate the art installation, making it a beautiful attraction for visitors to admire.
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