December 20 – December 26

The Week in Indiana History


1861     John Wilkes Booth opened a six-day engagement on Christmas Day at the Metropolitan Theater in Indianapolis.  Called the “celebrated tragedian,” he was playing six roles in a Shakespeare festival that included Macbeth, Hamlet, and Richard III.  The Metropolitan, opened in 1858, was considered to be the city’s first professional theater.  It was located on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Tennessee Street (now Capitol Avenue.)

ISU1865     The Indiana General Assembly created the Indiana Normal School.  The mission was the education of elementary and high school teachers.  Five years later, the school opened with 23 students and a faculty of three.  In 1929, the name was changed to Indiana State Teachers College.  In 1961, it became Indiana State College, and, in 1965, Indiana State University.

carriage1882     John W. Teel and Frederick Badet launched the South Bend Toyworks Company.  They began making croquet balls and mallets and later expanded to include coaster wagons, hobby horses, dolls, and doll carriages.  The company, employing over 400 people in South Bend, was acquired by Playskool in 1960.  It was later absorbed by Hasbro.  The South Bend factory closed in 1985.  Pictured:  A doll carriage made by the South Bend Toy Company, circa 1910.


1928     Dedication ceremonies were held for the new Butler Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  For many years, it was the largest basketball arena in the United States.  The facility was renamed in 1966 to honor long-time Butler coach Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle.  Over the years, the building has hosted a wide variety of sports and civic events.  It also served as a barracks for Army and Navy members during World War II.  It is well-remembered by movie fans as the location for the dramatic final scene in “Hoosiers.”


1933     The William H. Block Department Store in Indianapolis extended holiday shopping hours until 9:00 pm.  Patrons were invited to come downtown to have dinner.  The 5th Floor dining room offered turkey with chestnut dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and salad for the price of 30 cents.  For the same cost, diners could replace the turkey with a grilled T-bone steak with mushroom sauce.

Julia Carson2007     A horse-drawn caisson carried the body of Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson from her home to the Statehouse.  Hundreds of mourners passed by her flag-draped coffin in the rotunda.  The first woman and the first African American to represent Indianapolis in Congress, she had served ten years on Capitol Hill.  Her funeral at Eastern Star Church was attended by many civic leaders, including Senator Richard Lugar, former Senator Birch Bayh, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Former Congressman Andy Jacobs, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, and Civil Rights Leader Jesse Jackson.


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Indiana Statehouse Tour Office

Indiana Department of Administration

You are invited to take a “Virtual Tour” of the Statehouse by clicking the link at the bottom of this column.

(317) 233-5293


Indiana Quick Quiz

1.  To which Indiana city would you go to enjoy Christmas at the Seiberling Mansion?  a/ Kokomo      b/  Madison   c/ Richmond

2.  The town of Santa Claus is found in which Indiana county?        a/  Harrison  b/ Spencer  c/ Knox

3.  Name the author whose childhood in Hammond formed the basis of the movie “A Christmas Story.”  a/ James Whitcomb Riley  b/ Booth Tarkington  c/ Jean Shepherd

Answers Below

Hoosier Quote of the Week


“We intend to make it a happy day at the White House. . . we shall have an old-fashioned Christmas tree for the grandchildren upstairs, and I shall be their Santa Claus myself.”

– – – President Benjamin Harrison, December, 1891

Statehood day

Did You Know?

     The year 2020 has seen cancellations of many traditional activities.  Statehood Day was no exception.  Usually, December 11 is a big day at the Statehouse.  That is the anniversary of Indiana’s 1816 entry into the Union.  On that day, hundreds of students traditionally wind their way through the Statehouse, visiting booths and tables manned by members of the various state offices and agencies.  They take part in activities designed to help them better understand the function of government.

     This year, of course, the pandemic forced the cancellation of regular Statehood Day.  However, the Tour Office staff, with the cooperation of the members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, put together an on-line presentation which provides much of the same information.  You are invited to see the video below.


Take an “Armchair Tour” of the  Indiana Statehouse

Statehouse Virtual Tour

ANSWERS:  1  a/ Kokomo            2.  b/ Spencer    3.  c/ Jean Shepherd



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