Columbus, Indiana

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After spending a few days in Lexington together, Brad and I headed to Madison for a while. Driving the trip together was definitely more fun than driving solo and we decided to make a break stop in Columbus, Indiana. I came here before with my landscape architecture studio as a stop on the way to Chicago. I told Brad about the interesting town and we decided we’d like to stop and check it out since it’s right on our way to Madison.

It’s a pretty neat town because of it’s ecclectic mix of architecture. There is a blend of traditional, mid century modern, and contemporary. It’s most famous for its mid century architecture and many of the buildings were built by famous architects of the day, like Eero Saarinen. Brad and I drove around for a bit and then stopped in the downtown area. We were hoping to find an ice cream shop, and we really did find a great one!

We found an original ice cream parlor, Zaharakos, that had an antique original soda fountain. The place has been there since 1900 and hasn’t changed a bit according to the photos that were on the wall. It is also part cafe and museum. I imagine I’d come to this place all the time if I lived here…but it will now be a stop when traveling by Columbus.

I drive by this town every time I come to Kentucky to visit Katrina and my family which is quite often (although a bit less given the current price of gas!).  I had always heard of the amazing blend of mid century architecture and the classical styles from the town and had wanted to stop by for some time.  I had also learned from my mother that it was the home of her favorite race car driver, Tony Stewart ( which I am happy to report, that Katrina and I did not go through the extra effort to figure out where he lives or pester the locals about where he hangs out)… I won’t claim the fact that I used to be be a huge fan of the sport and rooted for him once upon a time…  Besides that the town is quite amazing.  It is the perfect blend of modern  and classical America…

This building, a children’s museum I think, was probably one of the coolest blends of modern and neoclassical architecture I have ever seen.  Somehow the styles seemed to blend seamlessly together and the design complemented the whole downtown, something that doesn’t happen much with these new infill projects.  I was surprised that such a small town would think about such details when designing these type of additions! 

As Katrina mentioned, this traditional soda fountain was an incredible find.  From the exterior, it was not much, but once inside this place exploded into historic soda dispensers, ice cream coolers, and marble counters.  This was the first time I had ever had a ‘real’ root beer float where they mix the soda on the spot and then add the ice cream.  This place definitely deserves a visit if you are ever passing through… I believe that I would take an aside from the interstate to just visit this place.

We had a chance to stop and walk through one of the many World War II memorials in town and this was the coolest place.  It had quotes of soldiers, family members and various others in the community celebrating their service to our country.  As much as I hate war and conflict, I can’t help but celebrate each one’s contribution to our nation, and with Memorial Day around the corner, I think of it quite a bit!  This memorial is worth a visit if you are in town for the weekend, and remember to thank a veteran while your at it!

One of the most intriguing places in Columbus was the Cummins Diesel Headquarters.  We just had the chance to drive by this sprawling campus of buildings, but it seemed very interesting.  The whole place was covered in ivy latticed buildings and walkways with retention ponds in the center of the openspaces that seemed to be geared to catch rainwater from the buildings and hardscapes.  I am sure this mid century design was revolutionary for its time and I would love to go back and tour the facility… I guess there is always that next trip to everywhere that I am always planning!  With so much to do in this sleepy little town, I can see myself stopping by here on random trips to tour various parts of the place…


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