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Downtown

This image is from an old postcard in our collection from the early 1900’s. The image was taken from the middle of Main Street, looking west. Crawfordsville was a vibrant town and the downtown was where nearly everything happened. The streets were lined with little shops, bakeries, stores and restaurants.The Post Office is just behind the photographer in this image. As you might imagine, the Post Office was truly a place to “see and be seen.”

The rails that run down the middle of the street belong to the Interurban which took passengers to and from Indianapolis several times a day. The very large building on the right is the Crawford Hotel which was torn down in the 1970’s. The Crawford was a luxury hotel where most of the guests of the College stayed while in town. It was also the site of many alumni banquets. That space is now a small park with a fountain.

When this picture was taken, the fraternities still had rooms in the upper floors of the downtown buildings and had yet to become residential. The downtown halls were primarily a social venue and the scene of many regular dances.

The building on the left near the camera is still of very great interest to our students today as that is the home of Little Mexico. A regular venue for faculty, staff and students, stop in any evening and you are likely to see several members of the Wabash family.

Beth Swift

  1. Beth -
    I just wanted to drop a note to you to say how much I enjoy reading your history blog. The stories and pictures of Wabash and Crawfordsville through the years provide a wonderful background and context for understanding Wabash College – and are always a source of some nostalgia.
    The recent post of downtown Crawfordsville with the old interurban tracks reminded me of a couple of years (1965-67) when the Scarlet Masque theater group was housed in an old interurban “barn” (and subsequently a warehouse for a casket company, I believe) downtown for our theater. It was a bit of a dilapidated building on the intersection of two alleys (behind a drive-through liquor store). It was just a large open area with a bare concrete floor, so we had to construct the “stage” as well as the sets for each production. It did provide a great deal of flexibility in that regard – we could have open sets, set up for theater-in-the-round, or be a little more traditional. George Tuttle was the theater professor and director, followed by Bob Clymire. Clymire wrote several one-act plays which we performed in a “cabaret” style – the audience sitting around tables (made from huge cable spools we got from one of the utility companies). We even took one of those plays (I believe the title was “I, Myself, and Me”) to the Yale Drama festival in 1967. Other shows in the warehouse theater included Music Man, Ghosts, Man For All Seasons, Lysistrata, the Inspector General, another of Clymire’s originals called the Parable of the Saddlemakers. Irene Mitchell (wife of psychology professor Fran Mitchell) was a frequent cast member as well as the primary costume designer for the theater for several years. We even did a children’s theater production – another of Clymire’s originals, I think – which centered around an evil wizard trying to ruin a young prince’s birthday party. We changed the local kids a quarter to attend and each performance ended with — what else — a birthday party with the prince, complete with cake and ice cream for all the kids.
    From Jim Amidon’s post about the ongoing Pillowman production, it is obvious that theater is still very much alive at Wabash and an integral part of the Crawfordsville community.
    Forgive my rambling, but seeing the picture of the interurban tracks just brought that all back to mind. So…thank you for sparking some very pleasant memories! I look forward to more of your posts.
    Earl Houck
    Class of 1967

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