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City Market: The underground

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The catacombs - BRANDON KNAPP

A mysterious gem lies beneath City Market called the catacombs. It used to serve as the basement to Tomlinson Hall in 1885, but no one really knows how the catacombs were used. It will be the site of an upcoming party celebrating Earth Hour and the launch of Indiana Living Green.

Stevi Stoesz, City Market executive director, says in 1912, the city's mayor opened the catacombs for people to seek shelter during a brutal winter. In the '50s and '60s, the catacombs were used for black-tie events.

The catacombs are steeped in Indiana history. The limestone inside the catacombs is Bedford Limestone from southern Indiana. It was cut out of the quarries in the 19th century, carted on horse and wagon to a train station and eventually transferred to another horse and wagon and transported downtown.

City Market is working with the Indiana Landmarks to preserve the 20,000 square feet of this Roman-looking expanse. Ideas ranging from a nightclub to a speakeasy to restaurants have all been tossed around as potential uses.

During the Super Bowl, this once off-limits entity became a tourist attraction. City Market offered tours of the catacombs and hopes to offer more tours this summer.

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