Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln Campus celebrated an important milestone Thursday during a 50th anniversary celebration that reflected on its past and future.

More than 100 people attended a celebration outside the school along Fifth Street to mark the occasion. The school, completed in 1967 by architect Gunnar Birkerts, was originally known as Lincoln Elementary and opened in April of that year with 205 students, said Brett Findley, principal at CSA — Lincoln.

The school was the first of its kind in Columbus and the nation for its features, Findley said. It also was the first school building in the United States to be fully accessible to individuals with handicaps.

Findley said about 400 people attended a dedication held at the school in May 1967. The American Institute of Architects gave the Lincoln school design, reflecting its Modernist style, an Honor Award in 1970, one of five buildings in Columbus recognized by the organization.

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The school was also a stop during a nationwide tour by Lady Bird Johnson in 1967.

“This is a very special place,” Findley said. “I feel very fortunate to be standing here to celebrate our 50th anniversary.”

The guest list included Indiana’s top elected education official.

“Celebrations like today are extremely special,” said Jennifer McCormick, Indiana superintendent of public instruction. “Columbus has a lot to be proud of.”

Elementary students stood on the steps outside the school singing the school’s fight song during the event.

Students from each grade level at CSA — Lincoln placed items into a time capsule at the base of the school’s flagpole. Items placed in the capsule included books, individual letters from classes, a flash drive containing photos, results from this year’s ISTEP exams and protective glasses that were used during the 2017 solar eclipse in August, along with a 50th anniversary program from Thursday’s ceremony.

The time capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2067 during the school’s 100th anniversary, Findley said.

The dedication also marked the beginning of a new school playground, known as the Linden Project, modeled off an original concept for a playground in 1966 that never materialized.

The project’s name was selected as a tribute to Birkerts, who called for Linden trees in the design. Birkerts died last month at age 92.

Construction of the playground will begin in the spring and will feature new playground equipment, including a multi-swing set that will allow students to socialize with one another, said Randy Royer, principal with Hitchcock Design Group, which is overseeing the project.

Outdoor classrooms, sculptural benches and a butterfly garden are also planned, Royer said. A wooden climbing structure modeled like a globe will also be included in the playground.

“That’s really the centerpiece of the design,” Royer said.

Financial support for the playground, estimated to cost $500,000, is coming from sources such as the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., in addition to a $50,000 grant from the Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County and $90,000 from the Carl Marshall & Mildred Almen Reeves Foundation.

Findley also said students raised $4,600 toward the playground project during a school fundraiser last week.

The playground is expected to be ready by the 2018-19 school year.

Pull Quote

“This is a very special place. I feel very fortunate to be standing here to celebrate our 50th anniversary.”

— Brett Findley, CSA Lincoln principal

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or