In 1930, Indiana Bell moved this building to make way for new construction. The move was because Bell bought the building but needed bigger headquarters. They planned to demolish it but that would have interrupted phone service for much of Indiana, which they didn’t want to do.
So, under the direction of architect Kurt Vonnegut Sr (father of the famous author), they lifted the whole building with steam-powered hydraulic lifts, then set it on enormous pine logs. It was moved via hand-operated jacks, which pushed it over the logs 3/8″ at a time. Once the building rolled far enough forward, the last log would be moved to the front.
Over a 34-day period, the 11,000-short-ton building was shifted 52 feet South, rotated 90 degrees, and then shifted again 100 feet west. Over a month, the 22-million-pound structure was moved 15 inches/hr, all while 600 employees still worked there. There was no interruption to gas, heat, electricity, water, sewage, or the telephone service they provided. No one inside felt it move. People could still enter/exit the building thanks to an entryway that moved it, which connected to a special curved sidewalk. (seen in the video)
The new headquarters was completed in 1932, and was 7 stories tall. It was later expanded in the 1940s and 1960s to bring it to its current size and height. The original building that had been moved was demolished in 1963.
The feat remains one of the largest building-moves in history. The building was demolished in 1963. The Indiana Bell headquarters in the middle of the move. Photo credit: William H. Bass Photo Company