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United Underneath: The City Market Catacombs

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

CITY MARKET, INDIANAPOLIS - It's about to get cold here in my hometown of Indianapolis. Winters in Indiana feel exactly like they sound, cold. When humans get cold, they come together. It's something that we've always done, a pattern of behavior that I hope continues as the leaves bronze until they're golden brown.

Beneath the bricks that once covered the streets of the Circle City, lay the basement to our city's first convention center, Tomlinson Hall. Stephen D. Tomlinson's Hall was built to entertain, and from 1886 to 1958, that's what it did.

IndyStar - Tomlinson Hall was financed through a bequest made by local druggist Stephen D. Tomlinson, who died in 1870. His will provided that a city market would have to be built in the hall on the west end of what then was known as East Market Square, where the farmers had sold their meat, eggs, milk and produce since the 1830s.

IndyStar - Indianapolis' Tomlinson Hall had served the city as a public meeting hall for more than 40 years. Work began on the hall west of the City Market in 1883, and it was dedicated in 1886, the same year the market was completed.

Our Summer was filled with turmoil and tension, as citizens of our United States began to realize how divided we really were. The principles that the nation were founded upon are inherently flawed. A weak foundation crumbles when the elements change. In Indianapolis it gets hot... and its gets cold.

Above is a photo of the National Prohibition Convention of 1892 located in the auditorium of the Hall. Tomlinson Hall had a strong foundation, one that supported political events, concerts, and even the Hoosier Hysteria of Indiana's high school state tournament. Here's a look at the 1919 Indianapolis Sectional played at Tomlinson Hall.

I was able to recreate the sectional bracket by reading the 1919 Indianapolis News as well as this brief history of Shortridge which I've included below. Additional help came from Carol S. on Facebook, a Tech graduate who noticed that my original bracket still had Tech's mascot listed as the "Titans".

Shortridge story (1)
Download PDF • 1.02MB

Also keep in mind that an Indianapolis high school won't win Indiana's State Championship until Crispus Attucks in 1955.

Tomlinson Hall burned to the ground in 1958. In addition to the large gateway on street level, all that remains are the arches of brick and limestone in the basement that once supported the gathering place.

The City Market's Catacombs are just Tomlinson's Hall basement, a place where those used to come together. As I was looking through rows and columns of information online, I found a story (via Historic Indianapolis) that quickly warmed my heart. I love old newspapers, check out the Indianapolis Star from Friday, January 12th, 1912.

"White and Colored Boarders Sleep Side by Side in Mayor's New "Hotel."

You see, underneath it all, we're all the same. To make it through the winter we'll have to come together. Even though it gets cold outside, I can't pretend like I don't know where I live.


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Sep 30, 2020

What a fascinating article. I never knew that Tomlinson Hall hosted basketball games!

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