The Scientech Club provides a forum for weekly presentations and discussions in the fields of science and technology and other topics for the enlightenment of its membership.
Regular, one-hour Meetings are, with the exception of holidays, held every Monday at noon at The Northside Knights of Columbus, 2100 East 71st Street, Indianapolis. Club Members, as well as the general public, may attend our Regular Meetings for a nominal contribution to pay for the facility. For those who wish, a buffet lunch may be enjoyed before the meeting. Occasionally, instead of a presentation, members and their guests may take a tour to a place of interest, such as a plant or historical site.
The Scientech Club is associated with two outstanding local charitable Foundations, established by Scientech members to promote science education: The D.J. Angus - Scientech Foundation and the R. B. Annis Educational Foundation.
The tour of the catacombs is not just a walking tour of the space under the City Market, but
also a history lesson of this portion of Indianapolis.
Technically a catacomb is a human-made subterranean space used for religious practice and usually a place of burial for religious followers. In spite of the mild abuse of the word, this space is officially named a catacomb.
Getting practical for a minute, the 20,000-square-foot space is the former basement of Tomlinson Hall, a four-story grand building located at the corner of Delaware and Market Streets. Tomlinson Hall’s footprint is now the open area located in the southwest portion of the City Market complex. The Hall was completed in 1886. It was an ornate four-story building with an auditorium which could seat 3500 people. During that same year the building we know today as the City Market was opened for business and is still functioning.
These two buildings added a final touch to a street market in the area that dates to 1821. Tomlinson Hall was a multipurpose building that used the basement for storing all manner of things, especially items adverse to summer’s heat. Over the years, very little was done to make this space more appealing. In 1958 Tomlinson Hall was destroyed by fire and after some debate the decision was made to remove the debris and leave the space open. During a period of twenty years, the catacombs were forgotten, as openings to the area were covered and the space had no practical value.
Once the area was rediscovered and the space “spiffed” up, it became a place to show the
public examples of our past history. The actual tour took about twenty minutes. The area
demonstrated the mastery of the skills of masons. There were many brick arches holding up vaulted
brick ceilings. It was interesting to look down one of the long corridors and visually enjoy the many
arches as they appear to diminish in size due to the long distances. In fact, one of these corridors
was used as a pistol range for the Indianapolis Police Department whose headquarters were across
the street in the City-County building. The preponderance of the columns was constructed of brick
and were approximately 18” by 18.” Every now and then there were large (6’ by 6’) limestone
columns that supported key locations of Tomlinson Hall. The floor of the space was entirely dirt. As
was to be expected, the air was moist and mildly pungent with only a few water leaks from the space
Overall this was a worthwhile tour that now places our members in the select group of Indianapolis citizens who knows about the existence of this interesting space. These photos are from http://www.indianalandmarks.org/tours/calendar/Pages/SearchResults.aspx?EventID=567
Notes by Richard Garrett