Archive for November 22, 2012

LS Ayres Cherub Returns to Downtown Indianapolis

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment
LS Ayres Cherub in downtown Indianapolis

LS Ayres Cherub in downtown Indianapolis. Photo provided by Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. and used with written permission.

By Jennifer Hanson
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.

It was 1946. World War II was over and thousands returned home from military service. Among them, Virginia Holmes–a prize-winning commercial artist–came back to Indianapolis and began her job in the advertising department at L.S. Ayres, a Downtown department store.  When it came time to compose the 1946 holiday catalog, merchandise was still in short supply, so Holmes created whimsical cherubs to fill the somewhat empty pages.  The cherubs captured hearts and began an Indianapolis holiday tradition that continues today.

Customer response to the cherubs was so great, Ayres perpetuated their appearance in its 1947 holiday advertising.  It was Ayres’ 75th Anniversary, and that called for a special addition to their holiday celebration plans.  Ayres commissioned nationally recognized Indianapolis sculptor and Herron School of Art instructor David Rubins to create a bronze cherub for the store’s landmark clock, located on the outside of their building on the corner of Washington and Meridian streets.

Cherub Keeps Watch

As the story is told, the whimsical Cherub mysteriously appeared atop the clock on Thanksgiving Eve 1947 to keep a watchful eye on the holiday shoppers until Santa took over on Christmas Eve.  In the 65 years since, thousands have had the pleasure of seeing the Cherub perched atop the famous clock each holiday season.  This powerful tradition lives in the hearts and minds and 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.  So May donated the Cherub to the City of Indianapolis and in 1994 Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. became the Cherub’s legal guardian.

So keep an eye out… the Cherub will be appearing Downtown very soon (beginning today, Thursday, Nov. 22)!

In addition, find replica Cherub ornaments at the Indiana State Museum gift shop

For more information, visit, or call 317-237-2222.