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Indy's Iconic Architecture: A History

The newly processed D.A. Bohlen Architectural Firm Records span four generations of the Bohlen family – 111 years from 1867 to 1978. The phrase, “A Bohlen on every block,” referring to their popularity in Indianapolis, is reflected in the sheer scope of this collection, which covers roughly 175 separate buildings and multibuilding campus projects. It is now available to view at the William H. Smith Memorial Library. 

Indy Architechture
Early 20th century residence of A.L. Taggart, Colonial Revival-style.

German-born Diedrich August “D.A.” Bohlen, the firm’s founder, joined Francis Costigan’s Indianapolis-based architectural firm before establishing his own firm in 1853. His son, Oscar “O.D.”, joined the firm in 1882 after completing a degree in architecture from MIT. The firm was renamed O.D. Bohlen & Son in 1909 with the addition of D.A.’s grandson, August C. Bohlen. In 1946, the fourth generation, Robert L. Bohlen, joined the firm, resulting in another name change to A.C. Bohlen & Son. From 1961 to 1970, the firm went by the name of Bohlen & Burns. In 1971, it was renamed Bohlen, Meyer, Gibson and Associates. Schneider Engineering purchased the firm in 1990.

The collection provides valuable information on specific buildings – planning, construction, alterations and additions – the nuts-and-bolts details that architectural historians, building owners, architects and engineers may not otherwise be able to ascertain. It includes 56 manuscript boxes of building specifications, correspondence, reports and notes, as well as more than 1,400 architectural drawings, ranging from 12 inches by 12 inches up to 36 inches by 48 inches. Known for designing such iconic Indianapolis buildings such as the City Market 

(1886), the Majestic Building (1896), and the Murat Temple (1910), the firm also designed many educational, religious and residential structures throughout the state and in Michigan and Illinois. The collection contains comprehensive information about the Sisters of St. Francis Campus, the Indianapolis Gas Company, Indiana National Bank branches, French Lick Springs Hotel, Manual Training High School, Indiana Methodist Hospital, the Marion County Jail and many more.