Building Description Tee Pee Restaurant, Indianapolis Indiana
The Tee Pee Restaurant, 3820 Fall Creek Boulevard, was an outstanding representation of 20th century roadside architecture. The restaurant, which faces east, is located in the southeast corner of the Indiana State Fairgrounds at the heavily trafficked intersection of Indiana Highway 37 and a major east-west artery (38th Street). The stucco-covered building, as it currently exists, is a symmetrical, single story design composed of a central area, upon which rests the teepee, with identical wings to the north and south. A detached awning for drive-in service is located to the west of the restaurant.
The restaurant was built with two symmetrical wings and a cantilevered canopy which extended around the building. The teepee was placed on top of the central section. In 1952 additions were designed for the rear of each wing by architect Fran Schroeder. The kitchen area was also expanded to increase the service for the drive-in customers. Also in 1952 the basement area was further excavated to extend under the parking lot to the south. The basement, a twisting maze of rooms, consisted of an extensive food preparation area which included a self-contained butcher shop and a bakery, among the numerous rooms.
Located above the central entrance of the restaurant is a neon sign which says "Tee Pee". The glass double front door is located within an air lock (a later addition) which has access doors on its north and south sides. Located to each side of the door are large windows with four fixed panes each. Each wing likewise has its own entrance on the main facade. There are horizontal bands of windows with four fixed panes each located on the east facade of each wing. The word "Dinners" appears in neon lights above the east facade windows of both wings.
The cantilevered canopy, which outlines the Tee Pee Restaurant, forms a deep cove where the roofline meets the top of the building. Below the cove is a projecting architrave which defines the top of the windows and also encircles the entire structure.
The actual teepee is a stucco-clad steel frame structure. Recessed within the triangular-shaped entrance is a wood door which provides access to the teepee's interior. The door is located on the east side of the structure. The top area was originally highlighted in neon lights, but these have since been removed. The decorative Indian motifs which once highlighted the stucco teepee are likewise gone.
Three carved wooden Indian heads decorate the projecting eaves of the restaurant, one located on each of the northwest, northeast, and southeast sides of the building. The Indian head on the northwest corner has feathers outlined in neon lights.
The west, or rear, facade has a central projecting, enclosed glass entrance bay. This area, which opens onto the restaurant's kitchen facilities, provided access to the drive-in service for car hops. To each side of the projecting bay are bands of four-paned windows as seen on the main facade.
The north and south facades are mirror images, with four-pane bands of windows on each, located toward the east end of each facade.
All of the interior walls are plaster. Located around the room, just above the windows, is an Indian motif border painted directly on the wall. This front room is separated from a smaller rear dining area (added in 1952) by a partition which has two large openings. Located within the rear room are two murals painted on stretched leather applied to the wall.
The configuration of the two rooms in the north wing is identical to those of the south wing, but the room in the rear addition was converted into a lounge. The original murals of the north wing were replaced by pictures painted directly on the wall.
At the 1984 auction the majority of the interior fixtures were removed. This included the booths, tables and chairs, and the kitchen and food preparation equipment. The lunch counter located in the central portion of the restaurant was also removed, as were the stools. The murals and painted designs remain.