7-4-12 & 1-16-14 & 5-5-16
Welcome to Columbus! Also known as “The City of Distinction”, this community of 4,991 has many interesting landmarks and historic structures. Featured above is the City Hall, built in 1892 and still serves in this capacity. The living landmark as seen in the sign above the Redbud Tree. They provide a great color accent to the downtown and resident yards in May when they bloom. Columbus so reveres the tree they have a festival called, “Redbud Days”.
In 2016 we were not able to come to the festival but we did stop in to see their beautiful red bud trees. They were EVERYWHERE. This city really earned it’s monicker “The Red Bud City”. The sign above was on the lawn of the Columbus Public Library. It is no ordinary library though, it’s a Carnegie Library. We have seen those in many of the towns we have visited.
We begin our exploration of Columbus with the historic home of former Governor James Taylor Lewis.
The mansion is located in a historic district and we took a look at the other beautiful houses on this block and nearby. Across the street on 147 North Lewis is the Wheeler House, 1870. Louis Sullivan stayed here while the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank was being built. President Taft once made a speech from the front balcony of this house too.
The Bellack House, 1897.
The beautiful Farnham House from 1867 dominates the corner on 553 West James St.
This is the Queen Anne/Tudor Revival House on 314 South Charles, built in 1900.
This house that looks like a castle is the Albrech House on 334 South Ludington, built in 1930. There are a great many more houses, be sure to get the guide book in the Farmers bank to find them all!
On a hill across the street from the Governor’s mansion is the Columbus historic Chapel Street Water tower, a prominent landmark.
The whole downtown is a designated Historic District. This fact did not escape Hollywood. They chose to film part of the movie “Public Enemies”, released in 2009. Here is a corner panorama of these beautiful buildings.
The Farmers and Merchants Union Bank is a special centerpiece of Columbus. It is only one of 8 “Jewel Box” banks in the entire United States designed by Louis Sullivan. The outside of the bank was also featured in the movie Public Enemies. The inside was breathtaking! One of the associates who was worked there a long time, Anita, gave us a tour of the bank! On the upper floor is a small museum of bank artifacts. We found out the beautiful molded “stonework” on the outside is terra cotta, less expensive than carved stonework. The water fountain no longer works but it is still beautiful.
The meeting room.
Lobby and museum in Historic Mezzanine.
The bank also sells a few souveniers to visitors. You can find the list next to the lamp that Louis Sullivan presented to the bank upon completion. We got the Columbus History and Architecture Tour booklet for $3, proceeds benefiting the Columbus Historical Society. Thanks Anita for the great tour!
A monument across from City Hall pays homage to Civil War soldiers.
A piece of personal history, the Town Tap was one of the sponsors of my husband’s sister’s Softball team in the 1970’s.
Kurth Brewery building is also a landmark here. They no longer brew beer but its still owned by the family and run a small bar and restaurant there. The brewery burned down on July 20, 1916 and was not rebuilt. Prohibition began in 1919 and that didn’t help in trying to recover either. They are open Wednesday and Friday evening from 6-10:30 PM only.
The John Henry Kurth House on 902 Park is a 1897 Queen Anne style home.
Columbus is known for its great shopping also, especially antiques. The largest store in Wisconsin is here, the Columbus Antique Mall, a former canning factory. They are open 8-4 daily, and feature the Christopher Columbus Museum.
Many artifacts in the museum, including models of the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. Also, 18 rooms of antiques for sale. Get there early to see everything, the place is HUGE!
We had a great July 4th there in 2012. People liked getting dressed in their patriotic finest. We had our picture with this man we met there just before the parade. The celebration was held at Fireman’s Park afterwards. Lots of fun. The historic Park Pavilion is 100 years old in 2016.
Columbus also has one of the few Amtrak train stations in Wisconsin. It once was the Milwaukee Railroad Depot. When we visited in 2016 we were lucky enough to see the train stop by. The depot was built in 1906. It was the 2nd depot built in Columbus. Notice the brick path? They may have been laid there at the same time this depot built. The company that made these brick pavers may have been Purington Brickyard in East Galesburg, IL. The company that reclaims some of these historic bricks is Gavin Historical Bricks. Not longer in production since the invention of concrete and asphalt, find these originals over a century old was a great find! See them close up..
Inside the depot are benches from the 1930’s or 40’s.
The ticket window at the front of the room.
The schedule, not much but better than nothing. At least you can get to St. Paul or Chicago. From there you can connect to other trains going to points elsewhere.
Just a little further down the track is the original depot, built in 1864. It was used for both freight and passengers before the newer one was built.
We also enjoyed a great Mexican meal at The Columbus Family Restaurant on our 2014 visit. Our dinners were delicious, it was hard to choose since the menu was quite large.
Also stop at Apple Tree Family Restaurant, it is across the street from Kurth’s. We had a great meal there in 2016 and plan on returning.
If you want to cook at home, Columbus also has a Pick n’ Save right off the 151 exit.
Discover Columbus! They have it all: great shopping, rich history and friendly people. Stop by!