Historic Columbus, Indiana

Historic Columbus, Indiana Columbus, Indiana circa the old days. Share any historic photos you may have on this page.

This page is dedicated to displaying images of Columbus, Indiana's past establishments and landmarks. Many of the curated photos are courtesy of Historic Columbus, Indiana (http://www.historiccolumbusindiana.org/) and the Historic Columbus, Indiana Message Board (http://columbusin.proboards.com/index.cgi). Please visit these sites for more historical background and content. If you would like to share any old photos of Columbus' Past then please do! We'd love to see them!


From The Evening Republican, November 10, 1906

“Fire Chief [Walter] Doup says that when fire alarms are turned in, the horses of the fire department are burdened with “deadhead” passengers who jump on the fire wagons to ride to the fires and that if this practice is not stopped, prosecutions are sure to follow. He says that only firemen, policemen and the linemen are permitted to ride to fires on the wagons.”

“Though the elements of progress are often complex and obscure, we may hope to unravel the tangled skein and throw som...

“Though the elements of progress are often complex and obscure, we may hope to unravel the tangled skein and throw some helpful light upon the subject if we look at it in three aspects common to all human life, namely, the moral, intellectual and physical. The development of this city, as all other life, inverts this order. The earliest phase is physical. A patient, systematic and untiring industry is the citizen’s first virtue. To apply this force at the point of maximum efficiency requires intellectual effort. Habits of industry, the intelligent application of principles, the observation of facts in themselves and their relations to each other, the power of quick perception, which no sign, however subtle, escapes; every quality that goes to make an assured success in city life is at the same time both the cause and the effect of physical and mental growth. On the physical side, the resources are widened; on the mental, the ability to catch flying opportunity on the wing and to utilize it is sharpened. As two harmonious notes struck in unison on a perfectly tuned instrument will not only sound themselves, but will set a third, and this completes the accord so a legitimate development of the physical and mental life will awaken into being the moral sense that which makes the honest man what he is, the noblest work of God will make the community noble as well. Industry is power; knowledge is power, but far above and beyond both, lifting both into a higher and wider sphere of action, is the power of character.” (Columbus Herald, 1895) —John Crump, City Hall dedication

The Crump Theatre will play a part in the 2019 Exhibit Columbus exposition. Please take a moment to read the article, an...
Sending a love letter: Workshop to remind residents of what the Crump could be

The Crump Theatre will play a part in the 2019 Exhibit Columbus exposition. Please take a moment to read the article, and please join us this coming Saturday, May 25, at The Commons (from 2 to 4).
The Crump Theatre matters. Let’s all show our support.


Architectural and urban designer Paola Aguirre believes writing a love letter to the shuttered Crump Theatre could result in the decaying performance facility’s salvation. Community residents are being asked to put their thoughts on paper in a special workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Comm...


The Republic’s article of May 21, “Sending a love letter: Workshop to remind residents of what the Crump could be,” finds the same old “historical highlights” recycled once again. For years, The Republic insists on stating that Keith’s Arcade (Crump’s Theatre) either had an auditorium in “the rear,” or had a space for performances.
This recurring “fact” is not true.
The definition of “arcade” in this instance has nothing to do with anything amusement. Rather, the word is used to describe the façade of the building (i.e. a series of arches).
The other rehashed “fact” The Republic insists on repeating is this: “1879: Purchased by John S. Crump for $6,000.” John Crump did buy Keith’s Arcade and did in fact pay $6,000, but he bought the building at auction on January 28, 1889.
Over the past six years, I have contacted The Republic staff on several occasions noting these “historical highlight” errors to no avail.
I challenge someone at The Republic: provide a source for your statement that Keith’s Arcade had an auditorium in “the rear.”
I eagerly await your response. :)

Columbus, Indiana Trivia: Where was the first, all-talking movie shown?Ninety years ago last month (March 6, 1929), the ...

Columbus, Indiana Trivia: Where was the first, all-talking movie shown?

Ninety years ago last month (March 6, 1929), the first all-talking movie was shown in Columbus, Indiana. Credit for this first in Columbus history can go neither to the Crump Theatre, the American Theatre, nor to Frank J. Rembusch who owned/operated the Columbus theaters. The locale at which this event took place is as unusual as the circumstances surrounding the showing.

On Wednesday afternoon, March 6, 1929, a three-day car show got underway at the National Guard Armory, Seventh and Franklin streets. Aside from the thirty-nine automobiles put on display, people attending the event were treated to the sound of automobile dealer Edwin Bowlen’s unique sound system: A car radio connected to extra, external speakers, and “a new device showing moving pictures with talking and singing.” (The Evening Republican, 6 Mar 1929, page 1)

The “talkies” attracted as much attention as the new automobiles with many attendees waiting to see the movies a second time. (The Evening Republican, 8 Mar 1929, page 4).

The Crump Theatre wasn’t too far behind in using this new technology. The first, all-talking” movie debuted at the Crump Theatre on Monday, March 11.

Armory photo from Google Maps

This three-quarter page advertisement appears on page 5 of the 6 May 1929 edition of The Evening Republican. I believe t...

This three-quarter page advertisement appears on page 5 of the 6 May 1929 edition of The Evening Republican. I believe the residence pictured is the old Caldwell mansion/house which was situated at the southwest corner of 25th Street and Caldwell Drive.
I've not followed this story through, and do not know if the 110 acres were sold at this auction.


From the “West Eau Claire Argus" (West Eau Claire, Wisconsin) newspaper, 3 April 1867, page 3:
“A well authenticated case of spontaneous combustion occurred in Columbus, Indiana, on the 15th ult. Andrew Nolte, a German, very intemperate in his habits, was found dead in his shop, his lips entirely burned away, leaving a ghastly hole, and his tongue charred to a crisp. His nose was also burned as if by fire coming out of his nostrils, and his clothes were still burning when found. No other parts of his body save the air passages was burned.”

I started off this morning writing about Columbus’ “telephone pole” history but got distracted by Halloween custom...

I started off this morning writing about Columbus’ “telephone pole” history but got distracted by Halloween customs of 1878, two pimps named Joseph and Henry Bevis arrested and thrown into the klink, and other assorted tidbits. Regarding “telephone poles,” I’m on the prowl as to when Columbus’ first telephone company was formed. Regarding the prowling, I’m not relying on newspaper dot com’s search feature: I’m wandering through the Republican Old Skool Fashion.

Before Citizens Telephone Exchange was formed (the first, and I think it was 1881 or thereabouts), telephone exchanges were a private endeavor. The cheapest part of acquiring and using this new form of communication was the cost of the phone itself: once you purchased a telephone, it was up to you to purchase and install the poles and wire. Once the poles were placed and wire strung, telephone stations were set up. Like this—

The first telephone exchange connecting Columbus and Hope occurred October 29, 1878. This enterprise was accomplished by Captain W. H. Aikin (of Hope). On this date, Aikin’s line connected to Joseph Irwin’s pike line. The system was tested at 5pm. Miss Hattie Morledge sang and talked from Irwin’s toll gate (somewhere between Columbus and Hope), speaking and singing to all stations of which there were three at the time.

The Columbus office of this enterprise was Irwin’s store. Other stations were Petersville—Blessing’s store, and Hope—Rominger’s store.

After connecting Hope with Columbus, Aikin began installation of a line to Nashville, Indiana.


A Series of Saturday Morning Columbus Indiana Squibs Recorded In No Particular Order

October 27, 1858 – At the end of a trial at Columbus, Indiana, Hewherter the defendant against whom a verdict of $10,000 was given, drew a pistol in court and shot himself dead. (from Chicago Tribune, 31 December 1858, page 2)

In a suit today, Shrewbury and Price vs. Newherter, a verdict was rendered for the former for $10,000, when the latter drew a pistol and shot himself through the heart, killing him instantly (The Spirit of Democracy [Woodsfield, OH], 3 Nov 1858, page 2)

From the Alton Telegraph (Alton, Illinois), 6 Jul 1839, page 2: “The Columbus Indiana Advocate announces the recent death of a Mr. James Parishok, at the advanced age of 108 years. He was a native of North Carolina, but had resided in the neighborhood of Columbus for thirteen years past.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer of 24 Sep 1872 reports Horace Greeley “visited” Columbus, “Injiana” September 23, 1872. In September 1871, Missouri Senator Carl Schurz formed the Liberal Republican Party. At their national convention in Cincinnati, Mary 1872, Greeley gained the nomination as presidential candidate. Greeley spoke to a large crowd which had gathered at the JM&I passenger depot that morning. His speech was rather short, but long enough for The Republican editor, Frank W. Lantz to declare the stop a failure. (also see The Columbus Republican, 26 Sep 1872, page 2)

From the Alton Weekly Telegraph (Alton, Illinois), 25 Sep 1856, page 2: “A large Fremont mass meeting was held at Columbus, Indiana on the 10th inst. Upwards of 30,000 people were present.”

From the Urbana Union (Urbana, Ohio), 23 Aug 1865, page 4: “A minister, Rev. Dr. Coney, hung himself at Columbus, Indiana last week because his wife was unkind.”

Several squibs from various out of state newspapers speak of a well known prostitute by the name of Hammond, or Hammon who was shot and killed by an unknown woman at Columbus. The shooting occurred in July/August 1872, however, I have not located any news of the shooting from The Columbus Republican (Today's Republic newspaper began operations 4 April 1872)

From the “Anti-Slavery Bugle,” (Lisbon, Ohio), 3 Oct 1857, page 2: “Arraigned for Heresy or Immorality—Rev. Dr. Lyon, the pastor of the Baptist Church in Columbus, Indiana, and three of his flock, have been arraigned before the church authorities for joining a temperance society in that place.”

From “The Cambria Freeman (Ebensburg, Pennsylvania), 7 Oct 1871, page 2: “A man named John Sims, in attempting to recover a lost bolt from a saw pit, on Tuesday night near Columbus, Indiana was hit on the head by a circular saw, which penetrated the brain. He then fell forward and the saw entered his breast, cutting his heart completely out. He spoke twice after the accident.”

The “Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express” (Buffalo, New York) of 17 Nov 1868 reports the following: “[Ulysses S.] Grant made a speech (rather lengthy, but good) at Columbus, Indiana while en route to Washington. In response to a call for a speech, he said, “You have heard so much speech-making recently that I presume you are tired of it. You have don’t the talking, now I propose to do the work!”

I see that Julie Adams died. Julie is (probably) best known and remembered as Kay Lawrence in Universal's 1954 flick, Cr...

I see that Julie Adams died. Julie is (probably) best known and remembered as Kay Lawrence in Universal's 1954 flick, Creature From The Black Lagoon.
In 2011, I found a photo of Ms. Adams on the ATTERBURY-BAKALAR AIR MUSEUM website. In typical pinup fashion, Julie is wearing a beautiful smile and swimsuit. The inscription reads "Warmest wishes to the men of Atterbury Air Force Base."
At the time I discovered the photo, I contacted Tom Weaver, author of "The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy" (and many other works). I had more info back then on the photo, and searching for that info, I came up blank. It's probably on my old computer. I tried checking past correspondence with Tom, but such correspondence being contained in the Classic Horror Film Board website, I came to discover that when they made the switch to a different internet provider, all of my messages were wiped out. Nada. Nothing.
I can't remember if Julie made an appearance at Camp Atterbury. Something tells me a trip had been planned, but had to be cancelled. But I could be mistaken.
Question: Is it possible this photo *was* taken at Camp Atterbury?
I did a quick search on Atterbury's website, and was not able to locate the photo (has the photo been removed?). I also did a quick search at newspapers dot com, but came up blank.

Downtown Christmas lights. 1964/1965. Courtesy of James Willis.This is one of my favorites. Looking south along Washingt...

Downtown Christmas lights. 1964/1965. Courtesy of James Willis.
This is one of my favorites. Looking south along Washington Street from Fifth Street.
Merry Christmas!

A Brief History of Downtown Christmas LightsThe tradition of lighting the downtown shopping district for the Christmas h...

A Brief History of Downtown Christmas Lights

The tradition of lighting the downtown shopping district for the Christmas holiday began December 6, 1930. The lighting project was handled by the Columbus Retail Association. The lights and decorations may have changed over the years, but is a tradition that continues to this day.

Here is a brief history of the tradition.

1930 – For the first time, Columbus Retail Association purchased long strings of colored lights and laurel/garland to decorate the downtown shopping district for Christmas. The lights and laurel were strung above and across downtown streets. The lights were turned on the evening of December 6, 1930. On the morning of December 20, several yards of strung lights were torn down between Third and Fourth streets along Washington Street by a truck owned by Denny Transfer Company of New Albany. The truck was too high to clear the electric trimmings. This marks the beginning of a long carried tradition.

1936 – In addition to the strung Christmas lights, a community tree was added at Fifth and Washington streets. (12 Dec 1936, page 1)

1939 – A big Christmas tree was set up at Fifth and Washington streets, which for several years was the keynote of the decorations. (29 Nov 1939, page 1)

1940 – The prior year’s decorative string lights were strung along the two sides of Washington Street instead of across the street. The effects of the strands of colored lights hanging above Washington Street is preferred. At this time, downtown lamp posts were cluster lights, and were decorated with festoons of elves and colored lights at the top. (4 Dec 1940, page 1)

1941 – Downtown Christmas lights included a new item: placards were added to wreaths mounted on light posts bearing the inscription, “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Best Wishes. Holly was entwined around the light poles, the placards and wreaths at the top of the poles and the lights strung across the street with large wreaths at each end of the string of lights. (26 Dec 1941, page 2)

1942 to 1944: Per a WPB request, Columbus had a blackout of outdoor Christmas lights (13 Nov 1942, p. 8)

1945 – Strings of Christmas lights once again decorate the downtown area. “The gay colored lights brought big eyes to faces of young children who grew up during the decorative lighting “black-out” and had never before seen the downtown Christmas lights. (5 Dec 1945, page 1)

1946 – Management of Crump, Rio, and Mode theaters purchased a number of portable generating units from the government war surplus to power the Christmas lights. The purchase came about because of a coal strike and the government’s dim-out order as a coal-conserving measure. (7 Dec 1946, page 1) Also see 2 Dec 1946, page 1)

1951 – Downtown Christmas lights will be turned on at the time of Santa’s arrival in town. A new attraction this year will be the display of Santa, his eight reindeer, and Rudolph, suspended across Fifth Street in front of the city hall. (29 Nov 1951, page 1) Santa arrived on the 2:30 train. High school band officially welcomed Santa at the depot and headed the parade which crossed Seventh to Washington, down Washington to Second, across to Jackson, up Jackson to Fifth and to the city hall. Santa will be met at city hall where he will establish his headquarters for the afternoon.

1956 – Christmas lights in downtown Columbus were turned on Monday evening, December 4. For the first time, an automatic timer was used to turn off the Christmas lights.

1959 – Down decorative Christmas lighting were turned on Friday evening December 4. Added to the lights and garland were Santa Claus faces and Christmas candles clamped to lamp posts. Also, for the first time, lights were strung onto the side streets off Washington Street.

1961 – Downtown Christmas lights were turned on Friday, November 24 in conjunction with the arrival of Santa Claus. For the first time, Santa arrived by plane via Bakalar Air Force base. The CHS band played Christmas music from the back of a truck as the procession made its way to a booth on the corner of Fifth and Washington where Santa gave out apples, bubblegum, and listened to childrens’ wants for Christmas. (24 Nov 1961, page 1)

1965 – Downtown Christmas lighting was turned on Friday, November 26 in conjunction with a “Santa Claus Parade.” New overhead decorations were used, with stars an bells replacing the Santa faces used prior.

1966 – Downtown Christmas lights were turned on Friday, November 25. 28 new decorations were added. They were identical to the star and bells used in 1965. (10 Nov 1966, page 1)


Columbus, IN


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