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Marion's Ridley Tower Wins State Restoration Prize

INDIANAPOLIS – The $9 million restoration of the historic Marion National Bank into a mixed-use development known as Ridley Tower has won Indiana Landmarks’ Renaissance Award, recognizing the revitalization of long-decaying historic properties.

Built in 1917, the seven-story building at the corner of Washington and Fourth streets was vacant and vandalized when it landed on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list in 2017, languishing under an out-of-state owner unwilling to invest in repairs. But that changed when architect Michael Halstead & Lisa Lanham of Halstead Development purchased the property in 2018, reinventing the landmark as market-rate housing and professional and retail space. Today, Ridley Tower is a revitalized anchor in Marion’s National Register-listed downtown historic district, inspiring additional investment in the city’s core.

“Halstead Development’s revitalization of the Marion National Bank in downtown was nothing short of heroic,’” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “In choosing it to receive our Renaissance Award, we salute the vision and investment it took to transform this previously deteriorated property into a remarkable community asset.”

Indianapolis architecture firm D.A. Bohlen and Son designed the gleaming white glazed terra cotta building, a Neoclassical Revival-style standout. Inside, the bank incorporated a two-story lobby with barrel vault central arcade featuring massive classical columns, plaster ornament, marble floors, and teller stations. The upper floors originally housed professional offices for doctors, dentists, lawyers, and accountants. While the first floor continued to serve as a bank until 2016, the upper floors had been vacant for at least a decade, damaged by long-term roof leaks that caused falling plaster and moldy carpets. Thieves used a rear fire escape to steal copper plumbing pipes, wiring, and other scrap metal.

The project’s biggest restoration challenge came in repairing the extensive terra cotta façade. Heritage Masonry Restoration of Indianapolis stabilized existing tiles and installed replica pieces created by an Ohio supplier. Workers also took care to repair the remarkably intact bank lobby, with its marble floors, ornate plaster ceilings, scagliola plaster columns, and hand-painted murals. On the upper floors, workers retained and repaired terrazzo floors and original doors and trim, removing drop ceilings to uncover transom windows and return spaces to their original ceiling heights. To meet fire code, the project also created a stairwell to connect all floors of the building. Throughout the structure, new plumbing, heating, and electrical systems were woven seamlessly behind plaster walls and ceilings. Use of the Federal Historic Tax Credit prioritized retaining the bank’s significant historic features while adding modern amenities.

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The lobby now houses an ice cream and coffee shop, while an attached 1890s building next door was renovated for a barbecue restaurant. Floors three through seven were converted into 30 apartments, the first market-rate apartments offered downtown in 35 years. The building also houses offices for insurance and realty companies, as well as Halstead Architects, whose move into the building in June 2023 marked the project’s completion.

“It’s such a beautiful building. It was obvious if someone would just take care of it that it was worth revitalizing,” said Michael Halstead, president of Halstead Development & Halstead Architects. “This award is a nice seal of approval now that it’s done and ready for the next 100 years.”

Indiana Landmarks will present the award to Halstead Development at the statewide organization’s annual meeting and awards ceremony.

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