The Columbia Club was built in 1924 by supporters of the Republican Party. The club dates its origins back to 1888, when Indianapolis Republicans formed a group to support the presidential campaign of local attorney and politician Benjamin Harrison. Harrison had been an officer in the Civil War and had also been selected by the Indiana State legislature to represent Indiana in the United States Senate prior to the modern practice where voters directly elect their Senators. Harrison's presidential campaign was a success. The Columbia Club also experienced success, quickly becoming one of the leading social clubs in the city. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Club, when it was incorporated in 1889 by a group of prominent local
Republicans was originally known as the Harrison Marching Society. Its initial certificate of incorporation
stated that the club was “…organized for literary and scientific purposes for
the advancement of political economy and politico-legal historical criticism
from the standpoint of the Republican party.”
After Benjamin Harrison was sworn in, the club acquired its first home
at its present location in 1889 and changed its name to the Columbia Club. It has since been one of Indiana’s most important
social and political clubs and has been associated with the GOP for over 200
years. However, while in 1900 the club required
its members to be registered Republicans, that stipulation has since been waived.
home of the Columbia Club, which was completed in 1925, is its third at its
current location. The first was razed
for a new structure in 1898, while the club’s second home was later demolished
for the current structure in 1924. The
building that currently houses the Columbia Club was designed by the well-known
Indianapolis architectural firm of Rubush and Hunter. The firm designed a 10-story structure of Indiana
oolitic limestone with a Gothic Revival style.
Its most prominent architectural feature is its six-story oriel window
that contains leaded glass casement windows.
It also features bas-relief limestone panel sculptures executed by artist
which didn’t accept women until 1979, has hosted every Republican president,
starting with President Harrison, either while they were in office or while
they were the party’s nominee. Other Republican officials to have visited
the Columbia Club include Vice Presidents Charles Fairbanks and Charles Evans
Hughes and Senators Albert Beveridge, Robert Taft, Everett Dirkson, and Barry
Goldwater. Non-politicians to have spent
time at the club include aviators Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, and
General John “Blackjack” Pershing.
The club is
also home to a large collection of artwork from the Hoosier Group, a collection
of Indiana impressionist painters that worked in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries, to include the works of T. C. Steele. It also has memorabilia from Benjamin
Harrison’s presidential campaign and pieces of Lincoln family china.
Columbia Club contains four restaurants and lounges, a fitness center, meeting
and conference rooms, a business center, a billiards room, a library, barber
shop and an ornate first-floor Grand Lobby.
It offers its members varied special events and is available for rental
as an event venue. The building and club
is only accessible to members and their guests.