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Hoosier History Live is an independently produced new media project about Indiana history, integrating podcasts, website www.HoosierHistoryLive.org, weekly enewsletter, and social media. Its original content comes initially from a live with call in weekly talk radio show hosted by author and historian Nelson Price. You can hear the show live Saturdays from noon to 1 pm ET at WICR 88.7 fm or stream the show live at the WICR HD1 app on your phone, or at our website.

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April 13, 2024

Some landmark structures in Indy, then and now

Have you ever gazed up at the Art Deco-style Circle Tower Building in downtown Indianapolis? With its tiered exterior design of the upper floors, the 14-story building has been a landmark on Monument Circle for more than 90 years.

Also on Monument Circle, the Columbia Club has been a presence even longer. The building that houses the prestigious private club was completed in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

But two former Army airfields in Indianapolis are long gone. Stout Field, where famed aviator Charles Lindbergh made a stop on a national tour in 1927, was in the Mars Hill neighborhood of southwestern Marion County. Schoen Field, which opened in 1922 and became the site of several tragic crashes, was located near the former Fort Benjamin Harrison on the northeast side.

Hoosier History Live will explore these current and bygone landmarks as well as several others, including the barracks at Fort Harrison and the Traction Terminal that was the hub of the state's extensive Interurban system of electric rail cars during the early 1900s.

Nelson's guest, Indianapolis attorney and historian Ed Fujawa, includes some of the structures in his book Vanished Indianapolis. Others have been featured in deeply researched articles on Ed's blog about Indy history, class900indy.com. Ed also is the historian for Jungclaus-Campbell Construction, a six-generation, family-owned company that was the general contractor for several of the landmarks that we will spotlight.

The company was known as the William P. Jungclaus Co. when it collaborated with the distinguished architectural firm of Rubush & Hunter on the Columbia Club and the Circle Tower Building, which has a tiered design on the façade of its upper floors to, as Ed puts it, "give deference to (Monument Circle)'s central figure, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument". Construction of the Circle Tower Building began in 1929, with ads touting the structure as "The Aristocrat" of Indianapolis.

At the other extreme, the bygone Marion County Poor Farm featured in Vanished Indianapolis is another site that we will explore. In Ed's book, he quotes an Indianapolis newspaper article in 1901 as describing the Marion County Poor Farm as providing "care for the aged, the sick and the vicious." The 160-acre poor farm was near the current intersections of W. 21st Street and N. Tibbs Avenue.

Ed has been a frequent Hoosier History Live guest, most recently on a show last November that explored other bygone landmarks, including the Marion County Courthouse. In a 2013 show, we explored the Interurban system of electric rail cars in Indiana, one of the most extensive such systems in the entire country. During our new show with Ed about landmarks, we will spotlight the Traction Terminal for the Interurbans, a massive building on W. Market Street. In 1911, an average of 517 passenger cars and 75 freight cars left the terminal daily from the terminal building, according to Vanished Indianapolis.

Not far away -- at the corner of Washington and Meridian streets -- the Jungclaus company (again collaborating with architects Rubush & Hunter) built another landmark: the Wasson's Department Store building. Although the department store closed in 1979, the structure still stands and currently houses offices of the Indiana State Department of Health. Like the Circle Tower Building, Wasson's was designed in the Art Deco style. It will be in our spotlight, too.

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Our "History Mystery" on air contest continues to be very popular!  If you are an organization or business that would like to contribute tickets or admissions, please contact our host Nelson at nelson@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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We'd like to thank the following recent individual contributors who make this show possible. For a full list of contributors over the years, visit  Support the Show on our website.

  • Margaret Smith
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  • Mike Freeland and Sharon Butsch Freeland
  • Dr. William McNiece
  • Serita Borgeas
  • Richard Stroup in memory of Robert W. Stroup
  • Bill Connor
  • Ann Frick

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Nelson Price, host and historian
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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgements to WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Monomedia, Henri Pensis, Maddie Fisher, Austin Cook, and many other individuals and organizations. We are independently produced and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorship and through individual contribution, either online at our yellow button on our newsletter or website, or by U.S. mail. For organizational sponsorship, which includes logos, links, and voiced credits in our podcasts and in our show, please contact Molly Head at (317) 506-7164 or email her at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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Your contributions help keep Hoosier History Live on the air, on the web, in your inbox, and in our ARCHIVES!

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