Indiana Bell Telephone Building (AT&T)

240 N Meridian St Indianapolis

Vonnegut's Indianapolis/Indiana Bell Telephone Building (AT&T)
Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library
Written By Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library

Vonnegut, Bohn & Mueller made national news in 1930 with its ambitious and successful plan to build this. Actually, the plan involved moving another building out of the way first. Indiana Bell needed a new modern building and this architecture firm engineered to move the existing, functioning building and rotate it so that it faced New York Street. While the eight-story building was in transit, it remained fully functioning with offices and switchboards and no interruption of service. After the old telephone building was moved, Kurt Sr. designed an eight-story Art Deco building on the site. Otto N. Mueller, the firm’s structural engineer, supervised the move. The new building was designed to support twenty-five stories. Over time, additional floors were added in several different building campaigns and the relocated building itself was demolished. So it goes.

The writer reflected on his father’s work in "Fates Worse Than Death":

He was especially admired for his design of the Bell Telephone headquarters on North Meridian Street, a project conceived before the stock market crash. After the war Bell Telephone resolved to add more floors to the building, their exteriors to be identical with those of the eight below. They hired another architect, although Father was not senile or alcoholic or in any other way impaired. To Bell Telephone an architect was an architect. Bell got the job done and it looked ok. So much for the romance of architecture.

Cover image: Bell telephone employees. Image from Bell Telephone Magazine, 1922.

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Vonnegut's Indianapolis

Indiana Bell Telephone Building (AT&T)

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