Whatever else might be said about attorney Neil Chapman’s office, it is the only one of its kind in Evansville. Located on the 17th floor of the 420 Main Building (formerly Old National Bank), no office space in the city can boast of the same elevation.
“This is the highest office in town, with apologies to the mayor,” Chapman jokes. “But I also tell people it is lonely at the top, because it is the only 17th floor in Evansville, and we are the only ones up here.”
Part of the 17th floor and the entire 18th floor once made up the famed Petroleum Club. The private dining club moved to the top of the Old National Bank Building in 1970 and closed in 2006. The club is now vacant and in need of major repairs.
Chapman moved into his current office four years ago. After spending a decade working for Danks & Danks, he started his own firm and took space on the 420 Main Building’s ninth floor. Once his practice was successful enough, he moved up as far as he could go.
“I shouldn’t tell people how affordable the rent is, but it is,” says Chapman. “This building is a classic example of mid-century modern architecture. And it has aged well. And in fact, mid-century modern design has become very trendy.”
That design includes a few nods to the 1960s, including furniture that would look right at home of the set of the television show “Mad Men.” There even are a few bottles of liquor — for display, mind you — to top off the retro motif.
Chapman’s office features some personal memorabilia, including the team photo of his undefeated 1982 Castle High School football team and family photos. He has items from his time in the military, including his marine officer sword. A painting from his wife, Sandra Thomas, in the style of Jackson Pollock, hangs in the meeting room. And he brought in his father’s old LP stereo system that he’s played with since childhood.
“For an attorney, I think I’m pretty clean,” he says. “We scan and then shred. If we used the old files, I’d need another office this size just to store everything. And those books are my textbooks from law school. It’s all on the Internet now. Books in law firms are now just decorations.”
Chapman, 49, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and a law degree from Notre Dame Law School. He moved back to his native Newburgh, Ind., when he began practicing law in Evansville.
Today, Chapman is a big advocate for both the 420 Main Building and all of Downtown Evansville. He says he can’t imagine having his office anywhere else.