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The history of the Circle of Lights

Ever wondered how the magnificent holiday display in the center of downtown Indy came to be? We have architect Edward D. Pierre to thank.

INDYtoday: INDY_Lisa Hendrickson Edward Pierre history of the Circle of Lights_NOV23

Lisa Hendrickson is the granddaughter of Indianapolis architect Edward D. Pierre, who birthed the vision of lighting up Monument Circle every holiday season.

Photo by Indiana Landmarks

Quick Indy trivia for you: Many of our city’s beautiful historic homes, especially in the Meridian-Kessler, Butler-Tarkington, Historic Meridian Park, Washington Park Historic District, and Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhoods, were designed by a man named Edward D. Pierre. He was also responsible for creating iconic buildings such as the Indiana State Library and Bush Stadium.

A former executive director of the Indiana Society of Architects once described Pierre as “the greatest architect the state of Indiana ever produced and probably the greatest visionary architectural professional Indiana has ever known.” But fun fact: He was also the mastermind behind the Circle of Lights.

On Christmas Eve in 1937, Pierre was shopping for gifts downtown when he noticed Monument Circle was looking a little somber. After some thought, he proposed a seasonal display that would boost holiday spirits, launching the tradition of decorating the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Want to learn more about Pierre’s involvement in the Indy and its greatest holiday display? On Monday, Dec. 11 from 6 to 7 p.m. Pierre’s granddaughter, author Lisa Hendrickson, will share the origin story of the Circle of Lights and other highlights from his life and legacy. Get tickets here.

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