Nashville, Louisville & Columbus in Indiana

It’s Monday and bye to lush and green Tennessee.  Moving through the twisting hills of Kentucky, we hopped off the interstate to see a downtown landmark in Louisville, the genteel Brown Hotel.  Talk about Southern hospitality.  The doorman allowed us to park at the entrance during rush hour for 15 minutes of admiring the lobby and its multi-star restaurant.  The lobby was full of beautiful traditional furniture, mixed with antiques like the classic curved love seat and a round sofa with flowers and ferns in the center.  The staff was impressed that someone from Arizona would get off the freeway for a quick look at their hotel.  They were proud, and rightfully so.  The Brown is worth more than 15 minutes.  Someday I hope to return and enjoy it to the max.

I left Best Bud Bob in Columbus Tuesday morning, and I spent some hurried time with family in northeastern Ohio, my hometown state.  Two Ohio observations:  its roads were full of potholes or under heavy construction, and its fields of summer corn were pitifully dry. A shout-out to a high school friend now living in Mexico:  Karhnie, I said hello to your old house on Rt. 84 and sighed a little when I saw that the old junior high school is now an empty lot with grass. 

On to Indiana Thursday, where the land flattened, the freeway speed limit jumped to 70mph, and more fields sat sadly with dried-up corn.  I was excited to revisit Columbus, Indiana.  My first and only other visit was in the 70’s, one of those places I fell in love with after seeing one building.  If you’re scratching your head about Columbus, Indiana, you probably never heard that this town with 44,000 population has an amazing amount of buildings designed by world-famous architects.  It’s a must for architecture lovers.

Cummins Engine deserves huge credit for putting Columbus, IN on the map.  They hired the cream of architects:  Mies Van der Rohe, the Saarinens, and a bevy of talent from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.  In the 70’s you could see the key buildings in a few hours by driving around town.  That building I fell in love with back then was the local daily newspaper…all glass and you could see the presses rolling.  For a journalist with ink in her blood, it was like a window into heaven.  

Today the newspaper building remains, but printing is done elsewhere.  Today the visitors’ center sells a map with a downtown walking tour and extended car tour to see 50 plus historical register buildings and structures that have won national and international awards.   What used to be a nondescript downtown crossroads is now full of galleries, interesting shops, and unique restaurants sprinkled among a host of architectural treasures,  I wasn’t the only only one walking, snapping photos and admiring — I heard Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Russian and every possible American accent.  And kudos to Columbus.  They offer a pack of 10 handy cards of key buildings, each with a color photo, short description, architect’s name, and date of completion.  You dial a local phone number, punch in the building’s ID number, and listen to brief comments — genius and totally easy.

I wrapped the day by driving up and down residential streets, with the windows down and the sun roof open, openly ogling one gorgeous home after another, in every style you could imagine:  mansions, brownstones, Tudor, ultra modern, Tara-style, shotgun, brick, stone, a feast of building styles.  No one minded that I braked for photo ops or a minute of sheer admiration; in fact, many locals waved, smiled, nodded hello, or gave me a thumbs-up.  My last stop was the recently restored 1900’s Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor for supper.  I sat at the 50-foot marble and mahogany bar in front of the original 1905 onyx soda fountain, savoring my homemade broccoli soup and an ice cream sundae I created on the spot.

I’m still in love with Columbus, Indiana.

One Response to “Nashville, Louisville & Columbus in Indiana”

  1. Margaret says:

    Interesting stuff. I’ve never heard of that town. You must be getting a little fall color by now. Thanks again for the commenting instruction as I was unable to comment before but didn’t get around to letting you know. Crazies? Have you acquired blog stalkers already? You know what they say, never write about a place until you have left.

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