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The Catacombs of Tomlinson Hall

One of my favorite parts of Indianapolis is Market Street.  The east side of Market Street once hosted two really awesome buildings, the City Market building which is still there and Tomlinson Hall which was lost to fire in 1958.

A view of Tomlinson and City Market from the old County Courthouse

My experience with Tomlinson Hall began when I worked as the engineer for the City Market renovations.  The market space was upgraded and people seem to love it.  What a shame that we lost its companion so many years ago.  There are still parts to admire including an old arch in the west wing plaza.  But if you think that is the only part left, you might be surprised.

This arch is the last bit of Tomlinson Hall above ground

Pieces of Tomlinson Hall sit just below the West Wing plaza.  And not just any random bits of structure, but one of the most impressive basements in Indiana.  This place is special, and people in the city refer to it as the “the catacombs.”

A forest of brick columns

The barrel vaults and brick columns

The foundations of Tomlinson Hall were built using some amazing materials and construction techniques, which you just don’t come across often.  The details of the masonry show an attention to detail and familiarity with brick and stone that is hard to replicate.

A lateral arch supports the barrel vault ceiling at a niche below the sidewalk

Some of Indy's best masonry work is hidden below ground

Although it was not in the scope for the latest renovations for City Market property, this is really cool asset that I hope the city finds a way to share with the public at some point.

A view of the massive cut-stone piers that once supported Tomlinson Hall

Recently, City Market opened a taproom on their mezzanine and named it in honor of Tomlinson Hall.  The catacombs aren’t accessible by the public yet, but anyone can stop in at Tomlinson Taproom and celebrate it with a fresh, local pint of beer.

Footnote:  You can watch a video tour of the catacombs on this Youtube video from 2009 (fast forward to 4:30).

8 Responses to “ “The Catacombs of Tomlinson Hall”

  1. Fascinating. Thanks for the rare look inside a place that I pass every work day.

  2. flavius says:

    In the 90′s they used to hold a haunted house down there.

  3. Indiana Landmarks will be conducting tours of the catacombs from Jan 30 to Feb 3rd, so if interested visit this link:
    http://www.indianalandmarks.org/tours/calendar/Pages/SearchResults.aspx?EventID=567

  4. Matt says:

    Yes, Thank You As Well. This is something I was totally unaware of though will certainly pay attention to next time around City Market – Very Interesting !

  5. GaryBell says:

    Greg, Awesome shots! Not being a native to Indy I love to discover these things. Now I want to go check it out!

  6. Joanna Davey says:

    Wow, this is just awesome. I remember my father talking about it years ago. I hope that by some good fortune that they will do more tours and put forth more information.

  7. Doris King says:

    Do you have any history of this hall? What was it’s initial intended use? Why is it named Tomlinson? Was this a person, or maybe a fraternal organization? Any historic information will be deeply appreciated.

  8. Cynthia L. Stigger says:

    My great-great grandfather’s funeral was held there

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