Tour the catacombs of downtown Indianapolis

Living Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sitting below Whistler Plaza next to Indianapolis City Market are the catacombs of Indianapolis.

They are all that remains of Tomlinson Hall, the city’s first convention hall, built in 1886.

A fire in 1958 destroyed Tomlinson Hall, but the catacombs remained intact. Since that time, there’s been a variety of ideas with what to do with the 20,000-square-foot space. 

The catacombs has 120 evenly spaced arches with a design like that of ancient Rome. It’s known as the strongest way to support a building.

One man wanted to buy the space back in the 1970s and turn it into a restaurant called The Catacombs. Unfortunately for the potential buyer, renovations to bring it up to code for the fire marshal would have cost too much to make the project worth the money.

There used to be a big Halloween party in the catacombs every year, but that too was shut down by the fire marshal. 

These days, the catacombs are mostly used for tours, both public and private. The demand for the tours really started picking up back in 2012 when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl. 

To check it out for yourself, tours will start in May and run through October. They are on the first and third Saturdays of each month; the tours last 30 minutes each. Tickets for $12 each for age 12 and older and $5 for younger people. Tickets are sold online at indianalandmarks.org.

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