In honor of President Benjamin Harrison’s 178th birthday it seemed the appropriate time to feature The Columbia Club. Guests with the last name Harrison get a small gift! Tell a friend! All vintage photos courtesy of Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, with our thanks!
1. The Columbia Club started as a “marching society” to aid in Benjamin Harrison’s election in 1888.
2. A uniform was adopted for the earliest members of the club and were comprised of: blue flannel coat and trousers, white vest and pearl-colored derby hat, and a cane.
3. The current structure is the third incarnation of the Columbia Club headquarters; all have been on this plot of land.
4. Harry S. New, publisher of the Indianapolis Journal, US senator, postmaster general and entrepreneur (New Denison Hotel, among other things) is credited with naming the organization, Columbia Club.
5. The 1889 certificate of incorporation for the “Columbia Club of Indianapolis, Indiana” was prepared by attorney, Edward Daniels—also first president of the Columbia Club. Albert Baker, was also a “Columbian.” These were the Baker & Daniels of a law firm that lives on today.
6. The certificate of incorporation describes the club’s purpose as: “organized for literary and scientific purposes, for the advancement of political economy and politico-legal historical criticism from the standpoint of the Republican party.”
7. The first of the three homes to the Columbia Club was purchased from Michael H. Spades for $23,000 in 1889 (Namesake of Spades Park).
8. The Columbia Club is the fifth owner of its 45 foot frontage lot on the Circle.
9. The first price paid for this parcel, “lot 12 of square 45” was approximately $80 in 1842.
10. In 1892, ladies were permitted entry to the Columbia Club on Tuesday afternoons.
11. The official crest of the Columbia Club was adopted in 1900 and designed by Tiffany & Company. (This is a less extravagant more current version)
12. The cap in the logo represents liberty.
13. The second home of the Columbia Club was completed in 1900.
14. The third home of the Columbia Club was completed in 1925.
15. The current building was designed by the architectural firm of Rubush & Hunter.
16. The current building was constructed by William P. Jungclaus Company (ever seen that name on Mass Ave?).
17. The current building is faced with Indiana oolitic limestone.
18. At the Columbia Club in 1959, Calvin Hamilton, Director of Marion County’s Metropolitan Planning Department, gathered community leaders, including Eli Lilly to discuss how to preserve what was left of the city’s built environment. The seeds planted at that meeting live on today in what is now Indiana Landmarks.
19. The idea for Christmas on the Circle was born here in 1945.
20. After the Athletic Club closed its doors, many of its former members became members of the Columbia Club.
Know any other interesting stories or anecdotes about the Columbia Club? We’d love to know!
Learn more in the book If Tables Could Talk: The Columbia Club Centennial Celebration 1889-1989 by Marjie Gates Giffin
Why are there two frogs on the outside of the Columbia Club? I’ve been told it is because the three phases of a frog’s life (larvae; tadpole; frog) mirror the three homes of the Columbia Club at that location; however, I can find no source for that theory. Do you have any information? Eric
My grandfather, George Wohlhieter, worked there for many years as some type of supervisor. He retired and later died in 1965.
My Great Grandfather, Henry Cabell, worked at the club until his death in 1935. HE was a cook.
Did the Columbia Club ever have a Bowling Alley in the early days?
I haven’t seen that, but it would make sense if it did, since that was a favorite pastime in the early years of the club.
I have heard that back in the day The Columbia Club was a gentlemans club….are there any stories about that?
I imagine if–big IF–there was any merit to such a story, that anyone involved would have been sworn to secrecy! Never heard that, though.