Old Columbus Ice House Left Out In The Cold

An early 20th century Columbus ice factory is scheduled for demolition, so the property on which it sits can be used as a parking lot.

  • outside building

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    Photo: Alex Dierckman/WFIU News

    The Columbus ice house is scheduled for demolition.

  • Freezer

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    Photo: Alex Dierckman/WFIU News

    Graffiti lines the walls of a freezer in the Columbus ice house.

  • Icebox

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    Photo: Alex Dierckman/WFIU News

    Pipes in the Columbus ice house.

  • Ice cutter

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    Photo: Alex Dierckman/WFIU News

    A machine used to cut ice blocks will be removed before the Columbus ice house is demolished.

It’s known to some as the Columbus ice house. Others simply refer to it as “the pink building”, noting that its red brick has been painted over through the years. To the Bartholomew County History Center employees, it is a building worth saving, if not for its architectural significance then for the memories long-time residents have of the building.

But to the First Christian Church, which owns it, the space is more valuable as a parking lot. The ice factory will soon meet the wrecking ball.

When the church’s facilities manager, Rick Herman, walks through the building, he laments that it needs to be torn down, but notes that it’s been in disrepair for years.

“I don’t know what else could be done,” Herman says.  “I know a lot of people have said ‘you could do this’ and ‘you could do that.’  But people that we’ve had that have come in have talked about cost.  Nobody has money for it.  The church needs the parking and the community needs the parking.”

Demolition, however, will not start until historic preservationists have saved some artifacts from the building and had their say about how the city preserves notable structures.

The history center’s special projects manager Ben Schulte says the situation is a good example of why elected leaders need to talk more seriously of how buildings are preserved, especially in a city which relies heavily on its architecture for tourism dollars.

“Perhaps this will foster a discussion in the future to where maybe we can have a review process locally to look at buildings that are going to be demolished  and evaluate their historical significance and kind of go through the standard process there that maybe some other cities have,” Schultre says.

In the coming weeks, the history center will cart out a number of icemaking machines and other building remnants and put them on display in the museum.

People even hope to hold a party in memory of the building so those who bought ice there can reminisce and so city leaders can see what they are losing.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/merrill.henderson Merrill Henderson

    Let’s see, First Christian Church, massive architectural wonder, financed by the many millionaires that go there, already taking up a whole city block, and somehow they think the small lot (merely a quarter block) the ice plant sits on will alleviate any parking problem they have? As far as the community needing the parking, there is a large county parking lot right across the street from the ice plant, perhaps an extra 100′ to walk. If the desire to save it was there, a way would be found.

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