Historical Society building, from Southwest corner

The Bartholomew County Historical Society

BCHS logomark

Admission is always FREE, donations are accepted
HOURS : Tue – Thu, 10 am – 4 pm

524 Third Street, Columbus, Indiana ( Map it )

Admission is always FREE
Donations are accepted

Tue – Thu, 10 am – 4 pm

524 Third Street
Columbus, Indiana
( MAP IT )


Historical Society logo

Upcoming Events:

CALLING ALL KIDS – Join us for some summer fun!
Camps will meet at the Historical Society Museum, 524 Third Street.  All camps are hands-on and engaging for the campers.
Ages:  grades 3-6 (the grade you will be in this fall)
Cost: FREE – sponsored by Landmark Farms Foundation
Time: 3-4 PM
Camps will run rain or shine.  Plan for outdoor activities when possible. Drop off and pick up should be at the start and end of camp.

Class size – max. 20 students
Pre-registration required: call 812-372-3541
Registration deadline: Tuesday at 4:00 the day before the camp
Class themes:
July 10 – Pack your Wagon – Onward to Indiana
July 17 – Candle making
July 24 – Historic Games
July 31 – Soldier through time – The American Revolution thru modern day 

World's Fair exhibit anouncement


In 1904, Bartholomew County was home to 24,000 people. With Columbus’ population at about 8,000, the county had most of its people living in rural, agrarian communities. 300 miles away in St. Louis, Missouri, Bartholomew County was well represented, despite a smaller population, at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition; also known as the 1904 Worlds Fair. Today, the St. Louis Worlds Fair is regarded as being a turning point in American culture. Where new technology, innovation, and scientific discoveries were on full display for average people to see and interact with. With attendance at over 20 million people, Bartholomew County was on full display at the fair. Whether it be through over 20 building projects done by Columbus’ own, Caldwell & Drake Ironworks, or through Reeves Pulleys showing the potential for a mechanized future. Fair attendees might also have seen the elephant from the Irwin Home, or perhaps the old soda fountain which now sits at Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor. To encourage locals to go to the fair, Columbus even had a temporary office erected in downtown for curious folks who might want to attend the fair via the Philadelphia railroad line coming right through Columbus. 


Get hands-on experiences with programs and classes that introduce and share our fascinating community history! (Let’s plan!)


Visit us in downtown Columbus to view the exhibits, research your family history, or get answers to all your questions! (Let’s discover!)


Imagine, a barn and grounds you can rent for all types of occasions from casual corporate events to your special wedding day. (Let’s go!)


The Historical Society museum includes both permanent and rotating exhibits throughout the year, so residents and visitors of all ages are able to experience what life in Bartholomew County was like in our past and to connect these stories with our lives today. In addition, you can explore historical documents and do genealogical research.

1821 Trail signage
1821 Trail signage, looking west

Learn about the 1821 Trail >

See the 16 HP Reeves Steam Traction Engine in action!


You are an ancestor: Listen inside and you’ll hear the voices both of your own ancestors and of the ones who will follow you; they’ll help you make good choices. – ERIC UTNE
The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours. – ALAN BENNETT
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. – JAMES BALDWIN


History is far more than numbers and facts. History is people, just like you and me – a wild menagerie of fascinating, amazing, inventive people – people finding their way, making do, and carving out their own personal history, sometimes in ways that impacts and improves their communities, and their world. You will do well to learn from them, admire them, appreciate them.

This Third Street scene was taken many years before the Commons was even a dream. These buildings were located between Washington and Jackson Streets. It is  believed the man in the photo is Mr. Beatty.