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The Chase Bank Building at Westfield Blvd. and Illinois St.: A Long History of Being a Bank

Note: Sometimes you dive into a research project expecting to find a detailed history. Other times, the history is pretty mundane. This post is one of the latter and is a brief overview of the bank's history. Also, this post will appear in the upcoming Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association newsletter, which will be arriving in mailboxes in the next week or so.

Sitting near the northern tip of Butler-Tarkington, at 5635 N. Illinois Street, is a branch of the Chase Bank system. Housed in a stately, limestone building, with decorative carvings on the front, and large windows on the side, I’ve heard a few locals theorize whether the building had housed some other business, or perhaps, a library. In fact, it has always been a bank, although in the sometimes merger happy business of banking, its name has changed over the years.

Indiana National Bank Butler Tarkington history Indianapolis
Indianapolis Star, February 6, 1925

Before the bank was constructed on this site, the location housed various iterations of a gas or service station. When the station was first built is not clear, although in the early 1920’s, a Seth Klein Radiator Service was operating at the location, although then the address was 1003 N. Illinois Street. This business was soon succeeded by the W.C. Walls Co. in 1925. By the early 1940’s, advertisements for “Ray Katzenberger Tires, Inc.” were running in local papers.

A service station continued to operate at the site until the early morning hours of August 18, 1952, when the service station was bombed. Residents reported hearing the explosion at 3:20 a.m. Upon arriving at the station, now a Modern Fuels location, police found that the front door to the station’s main building had been blown off and several windows shattered. No cause for the attack was known, although police suspected a connection with a similar bombing incident at a service station in Brookville a few weeks prior. The damage did not prevent the service station from opening later that day.

Indiana National Bank Butler Tarkington history Indianapolis
Indianapolis News, August 2, 1956

The bombing appears to have remained unsolved, and not long after, the location at the intersection of Illinois and Westfield Blvd was selected by the prominent Indiana National Bank as a location for one of their branches. The bank was constructed in 1955-56, with its grand opening on August 2, 1956. The grand announcement carried in the Indianapolis News promised patrons that they would “appreciate the convenience: of the new location including “plenty of paved parking space.” Harkening back to the bank’s long history in city and state, the advertisement carried the bank’s motto: “A good place to bank…since 1834!”

In addition to its banking operations, the branch included a community meeting space which was regularly used by local groups and businesses for meetings, luncheons, and other get togethers. Sororities were reported to be frequent users of the community space for a variety of events.

Indiana National Bank Butler Tarkington history Indianapolis
Bank property in 1962 aerial image from Map Indy. Note the semi-circualr parking area behidn the bank.

In the 1960’s Indiana National Bank launched a Travel Service, which provided trips to various locations for a set price through the bank. Only certain branches included Travel Service offices, with the Illinois-Westfield branch being one of them. For example. In April of 1971, an ad ran in the Indianapolis Star advertised a European Tour, which featured a stop in Germany for Oktoberfest. The cost was $549 per person round trip and ad was headlined with "All the beer you can drink." Another popular, or at least, often advertised, destination was Hawaii for $469 per person.

Indiana National Bank Butler Tarkington Indianapolis history
Indianapolis Star, August 2, 1971

The Travel Service continued through much of the 1970’s before it was apparently split off from the bank and became independently operated during the 1980’s at the branch location. In 1989, a former manager of the Illinois-Westfield bank branch pled guilty to a money laundering scheme. The manager had allowed gambling money to be laundered through the bank, while keeping transactions below the $10,000 limit which would be reported to federal authorities.

In 1992 the Indiana National Bank, by now going by the name INB National Bank, and a subsidiary of the larger INB Financial Corporation, was acquired as part of a deal with NBD Bancorp. NBD, or National Bank of Detroit, acquired all branch locations which became NBD Indiana. The next several years saw a series of mergers and acquisitions, with NBD mering with First National Bank of Chicago, which then merged with Bank One, which in turn was acquired by JP Morgan Chase in 2004. The INB branch at the intersection of Illinois and the Westfield has been a Chase location since that time. Aside from expanding drive-up services with a larger covered area in the 1970’s, the most significant physical change to the bank property was the sale of a part of the southern edge of the bank’s lot to allow for the expansion of the line of shops which front Illinois Street north of 56th Street (compare image below to the one from 1962, above).


Indianapolis Star: February 6, 1925, February 21, 1965, April 4, 1971, October 31, 1989

Indianapolis News: August 2, 1956, September 20, 1957, February 4, 1965

Indianapolis Times: August 18, 1952


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