American Legion Mall

Historic Plaza

American Legion Mall stretches for two blocks, from North Street to St. Clair Street. It was designed to give perfect line of sight from the Indianapolis/Marion County Public Library, through the mall, to the north face of the Indiana War Memorial. Efforts to influence the American Legion to locate their headquarters in Indianapolis originally led to the creation of the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District in the late 1920s. The Mall itself is a large open expanse of grass that is slightly lower than the rest of the property. It provides a wonderful view of the Indiana War Memorial and the city skyline. The space hosts a wide variety of activities, from veterans' ceremonies to concerts, picnics and games. At the north end of the mall stand the American Legion buildings and the Cenotaph.


American Legion National & State Headquarters

The American Legion National and State Headquarters buildings are located on the north end of American Legion Mall. The State headquarters is on the northwest corner of the mall. Completed in 1925, it was the first building constructed on the Plaza, and initially served as the national headquarters for the American Legion. In 1950, the Legion moved across the mall to the new American Legion National Headquarters on the northeast corner. Located inside the new headquarters are a library, museum, and administrative offices. The State headquarters now houses the Indiana Department of the American Legion, the American Legion National Auxiliary, and the Indiana American Legion Auxiliary.


Cenotaph

At the north end of Legion Mall, between the American Legion National and State Headquarters, is Cenotaph Square, comprising the Cenotaph and the Sunken Garden. It was constructed in 1931 as a tribute to Indiana's war dead. The focal point is a rectangular black granite cenotaph (a raised, empty tomb) resting on a low green and red granite base that sits on a pavement of polished red and green granite squares. It was designed to hold the body/remains of the nation's first combat death of World War I, Corporal James B. Gresham of Company F, 16th Infantry, from Evansville, Indiana. Though the Gresham family was present for the dedication of the Cenotaph in his honor, they subsequently decided not to move the body from its original burial place in Evansville. The Cenotaph remains empty today, dedicated to all those lost in World War I. An inscription on the north side memorializes Gresham.


World War II Memorial

Just south of the American Legion National Headquarters is the World War II Memorial. It consists of a half-circle of granite and limestone, 18 1/3 feet in diameter. It is considerably larger than the nearby Korean and Vietnam War Memorials to reflect the relative scale of the conflicts. During World War II, over 400,000 Americans were killed and another half million were wounded, including approximately 12,000 Hoosiers killed and 17,000 wounded. The convex side features a summary of America's involvement in World War II and a map of the Allied and Axis powers. The concave side contains excerpts of letters from Hoosiers serving in the war home to friends and family. A freestanding column lists the order of campaigns, major theaters, and operations of the war. The World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Memorials were designed by Indianapolis architect Patrick Brunner.


Korean and Vietnam War Memorials

This dual memorial was dedicated by Governor Evan Bayh at the Indianapolis 500 Festival Memorial Service on May 24, 1996. The two structures are each segments of a twelve and a half foot diameter, twenty-five foot tall cylinder. The Vietnam cylinder is slightly larger to reflect the greater size, duration, and number of casualties of that war. Both are situated so that their convex sides face the street. Engraved into them are the names of the wars, excerpts of letters written by Hoosiers serving in them to family and friends at home, and narrative outlines of the wars. Inscribed in the concave sides are the names of the 927 Hoosiers killed in the Korean War and the 1,525 killed in the Vietnam War. The Korean and Vietnam War Memorials are located in the southeast and southwest corners of American Legion Mall.

VISITOR INFORMATION

  • locate

    700 N. Pennsylvania St
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

  • hours

    OPEN YEAR ROUND

  • cost

    Free Admission
    Open to Public