It was 1946. World War II just ended and thousands returned home from military service. Among them was Virginia Holmes, a prize-winning commercial artist who came to Indianapolis to start her career in the advertising department at Downtown department store, L.S. Ayres. When it came time to compose the stores 1946 holiday catalog, merchandise was in short supply. To fill the somewhat empty pages, Holmes created whimsical cherubs. The cherubs captured hearts and began an Indianapolis holiday tradition that continues today.
The following year, Ayres’ 75th anniversary, called for a special addition to the store’s holiday plans. Not only did Ayres perpetuate the cherub’s appearance in their 1947 holiday advertising, but they also commissioned nationally recognized Indianapolis sculptor and Herron School of Art instructor, David Rubins to create a bronze cherub. The Cherub was to be placed on the store’s landmark clock, located on the outside of their building on the corner of Washington and Meridian streets.
Cherub Keeps Watch
As legend has it, the whimsical Cherub mysteriously appeared above the clock on Thanksgiving Eve 1947 to keep a watchful eye on the holiday shoppers until Santa took over on Christmas Eve. In the 71 years since, thousands have had the pleasure of seeing the Cherub perched atop the famous clock outside Circle Centre Mall each holiday season. This tradition lives in the memories of a city and its grateful citizens.
The May Department Store Co. purchased L.S. Ayres in 1986 and, in 1992, moved the Cherub to its headquarters in St. Louis. There was tremendous public outcry when the Cherub did not appear that holiday season. May donated the Cherub to the City of Indianapolis and in 1994 Downtown Indy, Inc. became the Cherub’s legal guardian.
Keep an eye out… the Cherub will be appearing atop the famed clock outside of Circle Centre Mall very soon! (Nov. 22 – Dec. 24, 2018).
Communications & Marketing Intern, Downtown Indy, Inc.