In honor of the centennial anniversary of the clubhouse, Columbian Dr. Dan Miller, Historian-In-Residence, will be hosting "Columbian Conversations" throughout the year.

January 17 - Columbian Conversation

January 17 at 11:30 am | Library

Topic: Benjamin Harrison And The American Century—An Unforgettable Night At The Columbia Club

It's the night when two major figures of American public life give clashing views of the American future in the 20th century. A remarkable moment.
January Columbian Conversations Follow-Up

First, thank you so much for being part of the kick-off January event. Our group was outstanding for its participation and thoughtful reflections. You brought a lot to the table with your own understanding. Well done.

Second, I'm not sure what you expected from me but this first event is exactly how I handle things in my work as a consulting leadership historian and thus as Historian-in-Residence at the Club. Fast-paced, quick-shifts, application-focused, interactive. Hopefully, you enjoyed the mix.

Third, I'd like to offer a few thoughts regarding our story. My purpose here is to continue to encourage your own reflections on our story. Here goes: I urge you to embrace the full significance of what we encountered.Two starkly different visions of the world's next century and America's place in it. Each offered by a different leader at different stages of life (a point we might have pursued further). Framed within the newly-crafted lighting of the Club's impressive space. Truly historic and richly deserving of remembrance and reflection.

Benjamin Harrison is a powerful cultural resource of untapped value. He is a gift to, of, and from the Club. I think you should pay real attention to this fact—and it is a fact. Combined with the Club's major presence in the city's most unique geographic brand, Harrison's experiences as pre-POTUS, POTUS, and post-POTUS are a rich source of distinction. I've done considerable primary/original research on him and I make my assertion with total certitude.

I am constantly encouraging clients to know the extent of choice in their lives and work. We all have more choices than we assume, something easily forgotten in a world of algorithms and perpetual digitizations. I'll repeat here what I said in our time together: Harrison has a choice in how he will end his toast on that very early morning of December 28, 1899. He could have said nearly anything. And yet—he chooses to forge a strong bond between his world view (the "Alternative AmericanFuture" as I called it) and his view of the Columbia Club. He is an accomplished speaker with several major speeches and speaking moments in his personal history. He knows that the last thing he says will likely be the primary thing his audience will remember. This realization underscores the importance of his decision to invoke the Club's founding spirit within the context of a national and global future. I don't know about you but one word now comes to my mind in thinking about Harrison's choice:

Profound. Thank you again for your involvement with our January event. Thanks to Molly for all her support in making it a reality.

See you next time, and all the best,

February 15 - Centennial Kick-Off

Clubhouse Centennial Anniversary Kick-Off

Overview of Remarks
  • The Eyes Of Abraham Lincoln
  • A Spirit Of Space
  • The Distance Of 100 Years
  • The Known And Unknown

February 21 - Columbian Conversation

February 21 at 5:30 pm | Amen Corner

Topic: The Opening Of The New Columbia Club 1924

Go inside American life, the world of Indianapolis, and the Club's culture when the new building opens for business.

March 20 - Columbian Conversation

March 20 at 11:30 am | Library

Topic: Two Tools From Club History For The 2024 Election

The 2024 election will be filled with disruptions and tensions. You'll gain two new tools from the Club's history that can help you navigate the turmoil leading up to election night, 2024.

April 17 - Columbian Conversation

April 17 at 5:30 pm | Amen Corner

Topic: A Window On The Civil War: The Circle And The Club's Pre-History

You'll gain new insights into the American nation's horrific Civil War and how it affected people on the spot on the Circle where the future Club will stand.
We all have a pre-history. In personal terms, your pre-history is the life of your parents up to the time you were born. What happened for them and to them played a significant role in your life. The same analogy holds true for the Club—the Club's pre-history is the life of Indianapolis up to the moment of the Club's founding. We might want to get more specific and think of Benjamin Harrison's victory 1888 presidential election as the Club's pre-history. I suggest adding another line of thought. The Civil War is the Club's pre-history in my view, from the perspective of both the city and the founding spirit of the Club, Benjamin Harrison. The road to the Club's origination runs straight through the horrific experience of the Civil War. Without the war, no President Harrison. Without the war, a substantially different Indianapolis.

We saw in our April presentation that, on the Circle, the Civil War of 1861-1865 was a distinctive, defining experience. The Circle was the scene of considerable disagreement and controversy over the war. Pro-war and anti-war groups clashed here and had severe disagreements here. Tensions were quite evident on the Circle, especially after mid-1861 when it was clear that the war would not be short, quick, and easy.

At the heart of these tensions was a pair of questions. How does a republic wage war and embrace dissent? In addition, how does a republic wage war that includes the end of slavery and allow dissent that, practically, includes the continuance of slavery? These are fundamental issues that strike at the core of the American experience, the American experiment, and the American identity. They spilled out on the Circle.

These two questions especially appeared on the Circle when the Democratic and Republican Parties had major events (like nominating conventions) in Indianapolis.

Since Benjamin Harrison's 70th Indiana Regiment had one of its first organizing rallies on the Circle—just a few yards away from the future Columbia Club that he'll help to launch—we should add a nickname to his unit: the "Circle's Regiment."

· A final point—five churches existed on the Circle during the Civil War. (One of them remains.) Their presence gave the Circle a new informal tag, "Church Circle", a label you would hear in informal personal conversation but not in the formal media of the day. These five churches represent something very important to us now, but which is largely lost in our historical memory. The reality of the five churches on the Circle during the Civil War means one very clear thing: that the war was prayed about, preached about, talked about, thought about, and even sung about on the Circle itself in a much more concentrated way than any other public space in Indianapolis. The connection between the war and the spiritual was collectively felt, seen, and heard more on the Circle than anywhere else in all of Indiana, making it, for that reason, a highly unique place in the American experience of the Civil War. I cannot emphasize that enough. The Circle was a special place for the Civil War.

Before I wrap this up, I want to share a sobering thought. I don't mean this to upset or startle anyone. As I researched and pulled together my thoughts for this April event, I came to the realization that war has been a subtle and not-so-subtle subtheme of the Columbia Club's existence on the Circle and in the city. It would be well worth the effort to raise that subtheme to the surface, across the Club's life during the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, and to see what stands out. I say this because no one has outlawed war, no one has declared all future wars at an end, and no one has shown war to have disappeared from human existence. We will be there again, which means the Club will be there again as well. History tells us that, and the future whispers to us to better understand this reality for when war returns as part of the present.

Thank you for reading. All the best, Dan

May 17 - Columbian Conversation

May 15 at 11:30 am | Library

Topic: The Club And Victory-In-Europe Day And Victory-Over-Japan Day (VE, VJ) 1945

The Greatest Generation was coming home after the dramatic and jolting announcements of Nazi Germany and Japan's surrender in 1945. Immerse in the Club's experience of those defining moments.

June 19 - Columbian Conversation

June 19 at 5:30 pm | Amen Corner

Topic: That Night Indianapolis Roared—The Club Is Born
Benjamin Harrison was really never supposed to win the Republican nomination for President. The place and the people who became the Columbia Club were intimately involved on this summer's day and night.

July 17 - Columbian Conversation

July 17 at 11:30 am | Library

Topic: Of Colts And Elephants—Two Recent Club American Stories

The Club played key roles in both the relocation of the Indianapolis Colts and the 2016 selection of the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee. Relive the stories.

August 21- Columbian Conversation

August 21 at 5:30 pm | Amen Corner

Topic: The Circle Turns—The Club And The City Of Indianapolis

Discover the unique relationship over time that has marked the Columbia Club and its place on Monument Circle.

September 18 - Columbian Conversation

September 18 at 11:30 am | Library

Topic: The Club And American Identity, I—Celebrities And Special Guests

Major American and international personalities have walked the Club's floor. Find out who they are and why they were here.

October 16 - Columbian Conversation

October 16 at 5:30 pm | Amen Corner

Topic: The Club And American Identity, II—Presidents And Vice Presidents
The Club has affected American political life at the highest levels, including the presidency and vice-presidency. Absorb the stories that have affected American politics.