Columbus, Indiana

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Columbus is a manufacturing city in Indiana, the seat of Bartholomew county, 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis. It is situated on the East Fork of the White River, in a diversified farming area. Columbus has a tannery, and its manufactures include automobile parts, diesel engines, appliances, cement products, furniture, and textiles.

Columbus is celebrated for its wealth of modern architecture. Partly as a result of the philanthropy of the Cummins Engine Foundation, which pays the architects' fees for the designs of new public schools and other public buildings, it has more buildings by distinguished architects than any other U.S. city of comparable size.

Advanced architectural design is a Columbus hallmark. Schools, banks, churches, a library, storefronts and golf courses. Landmarks designed by such luminaries as Alexander Girard, Robert Trent Jones, I.M. Pei, Bero and Bliel. Saarinen and Harry Weese all contribute to the city's appearance.

In the 1950s a philanthropic foundation created a program that covered the architectural fees for the construction of public buildings. The program attracted distinguished architects and resulted in the construction of more than fifty architecturally renowned public and private buildings.

Columbus Area Visitor Center: 506 Fifth St., Columbus, IN 47201; phone (812) 378-2622 or (800) 468-6564.

Self-guiding tours: The visitor center offers driving and walking tour maps.

COLUMBUS ARCHITECTURE TOURS depart from the visitor center at 506 Fifth St. The land 2-hour guided bus tours allow visitors to experience the rich architectural diversity of Columbus. The one-hour tour concentrates on city highlights; the two-hour tour continues to the town's outskirts. Allow 2 hours, 30 minutes minimum. Tours depart Mon.-Fri. at 10, Sat. at 10 and 2, Sun. at 11, Mar.-Nov.; Mon.-Fri. at 10, Sat. at 10 and 2, rest of year. Visitor center open Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 10-4, Mar.-Nov.; Mon.-Sat. 9-5, rest of year. Closed major holidays. Visitor center free. Onehour tour $7; senior citizens $6.50; students with ill $3; ages 6-12, $1.50. Two-hour tour $9.50; over 64, $9; students with ill $5; ages 6-12, $3. Reservations are recommended. MC, VI. Phone (812) 378-2622 or (800) 468-6564.

FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Fifth St. and Lafayette Ave., a fine example of functional architecture, was designed by Eliel Saarinen. The 166-foot tower can be seen for miles. The key to the sanctuary is available at the church office. Mon.-Fri. 8-5; closed holidays and during church services. Free. Phone (812) 379-4491.

INDIANAPOLIS MUSEUM OF ART, COLUMBUS GALLERY, at 390 The Commons, is a satellite gallery displaying changing local and regional art exhibits. Tues.-Sat. 10-5 (also Fri. 5-8), Sun. noon-4; closed holidays. Free. Phone (812) 376-2597.

IRWIN GARDENS, Fifth St and Lafayette Ave., consists of formal sunken gardens on the estate of the late William G. Irwin. Sat.-Sun. 8-4, Apr. 15-Oct. 15 (weather permitting). Free.

NORTH CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 850 Tipton Ln., is a simple hexagonal structure tapering to a spire and topped by a gold leaf cross. The church was designed by Bero Saarinen with interior furnishings by Alexander Girard. Mon.-Fri. 9-4:45 Sat 9-noon; closed holidays and during church services. Free. Phone (812) 372-1531. MyWikiBiz