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Commons history 1998

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Editor's Note: As part of a commemorative section on the grand reopening of The Commons, we compiled clips from some of the most important stories about The Commons in our electronic library. Here are some of the highlights from 1998.

February 23, 1998

Sculpture design commemorates 25 years of Commons, art council

By Maelynn Hoffman

The Republic

Working on logistics for an official unveiling, Columbus Area Arts Council has set up a red wooden model of a steel sculpture along Washington Street in front of The Commons Mall.

J. Irwin and Xenia Miller will donate the sculpture, designed by French sculptor Bernar Venet, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Commons and the arts council.

They approached the arts council last year to see if the council and The Commons Board would be interested in accepting the sculpture as a gift, said Sherry Stark, arts council executive director.

The board approved the donation at its quarterly meeting in December.


April 5, 1998

Farmer's Market leaving Commons

By Leslie Saunders

The Republic

The Farmer's Market will be moving from The Commons, but to where is still a mystery.

"They told me last fall they were going to give it up, but I kept hoping they would change their minds," said vendor John Perry Simmons of Hope. "I liked it at The Commons. I always did."

The market has been at The Commons since 1981.

Vendors could operate a table for free the first time at The Commons, then paid $5 each time after that and the fifth time was free.

Sherry Stark, executive director of the Columbus Area Arts Council, said the organization had no ill feelings toward the market. It was just not economically feasible to have the vendors there anymore.

"I love the concept of the Farmer's Market, and I was pleased to see it growing and developing," Stark said.


April 19, 1998

Arts council marks 25th year with birthday bash

By Britt Kennerly

The Republic Features Editor

The party's the icing on the birthday cake.

The present is a gift to the community from the Columbus Area Arts Council, which is wrapping up its 25th year in sparkling style on April 25 with a community arts celebration.

A daylong series of events toasting how the arts enhance life begins with activities for children, slated in The Commons from 2 to 4 p.m.

The afternoon activities invite young artists to create ceramic tile paintings and make rain-sticks, musical instruments and masks.

And everyone can enjoy an exhibit by Wheatfields Center of the Natural Arts, a petting zoo and opportunities to draw.

Big folks get to party, too.

At 6:45 p.m., 2ARCS de 212.5, the "C" sculpture outside The Commons facing Washington Street, will be dedicated. A gift to the city from J. Irwin and Xenia Miller, the sculpture was designed by Bernar Venet.

May 28, 1998

Children's museum ready to test charms on city

By Harry McCawley

The question of whether there is a market in Columbus for a children's museum was answered last week.

During a three-day period, 551 adults and children were admitted to kidscommons, the interactive children's facility in The Commons Mall.

Those numbers take on a particular significance because the Columbus community children's museum won't be officially open until Saturday morning following a 10:30 dedication ceremony.

Admission on opening day will be free. After opening day admission will be $2, but children under 2 will be admitted free.

Anticipating a large crowd at the opening, officials are planning on a maximum of 75 people at a time in the museum and have established a registration process in which people can reserve times should there be too large a crowd.

The 551 who have already been through the museum were unwitting participants in a test run of the 2,500-square-foot facility prior to Saturday's opening.

"We wanted to see how people of all ages would react or interact with our exhibits, so we simply opened the doors without any advance notice on three days," said Cheryl Buffo, museum consultant.

"We didn't grab people as they walked past or anything like that. They just walked in and immediately got involved."

August 30, 1998

Attention to Architecture:Critic's review of Columbus

Staff Reports

Columbus has been a favorite topic of the national media over the years when such topics as architecture, local leadership or community initiatives are discussed.

The most recent effort is a seven-page spread in the current Preservation magazine, a publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C.

Written by Robert Campbell, the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, the article reviews the well-known story of how world-renown architects designed public buildings throughout the county with the assistance of the Cummins Engine Foundation over the past 40 years.

Campbell interviewed J. Irwin Miller and Will Miller about their family's and companies' involvement in the city's development.

In "reviewing" the city and the impact of its architecture on future development, Campbell lauded Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church and several of the city's landscaping projects.

He also noted after touring Columbus that, "among all those buildings, only a few qualify as remarkable works of architecture." Receiving substandard marks were The Commons and the "mostly hideous phony-traditional houses" at Tipton Lakes.

December 8, 1998

Miyoshi makes Columbus its newest home: Sister city opens permanent office in Commons

By Sabine Vollmer

The Republic

On Sept. 26, 1995, commerce triumphed over Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Fifty years and 42 days after World War II ended in the Pacific, Columbus' Japanese sister city, Miyoshi, opened a permanent office at The Commons.

The office is an open sesame funded by Miyoshi taxpayers. Its door swings eastward from Columbus and westward from Miyoshi.

"There's no other of its kind in Indiana or the Midwest," said Larry Ingraham, director of the Miyoshi-Columbus Friendship Association.

Installation of the two-way door is an economic adventure story.

Starting in 1984, former Mayor Bob Stewart made annual pilgrimages across the Pacific to attract Japanese manufacturers to Columbus. Economic Development Board President Brooke Tuttle accompanied Stewart on most of the trips.

Hideki "Dick" Yamamoto, the owner of Miyama Corp. in Miyoshi, traveled in the same circles where Stewart and Tuttle sought investors.

Miyama is an automotive parts supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. Toyota, headquartered five miles west of Miyoshi, opened a forklift plant on the south side of Columbus in 1988.

Yamamoto visited Columbus after meeting Gerry Seim, a former Arvin Industries Inc. executive and fellow Rotary International member. Columbus-based Arvin has a joint venture with Sango Co., an automotive parts manufacturer headquartered in Miyoshi.

Over the years, the ties between Miyoshi and Columbus thickened.

December 27, 1998

Museum growth spurt: Kids, parents flocking to kidscommons' learning activities

By Leslie Saunders

The Republic

Kidscommons, the Columbus Community Children's Museum, was expected to draw about 2,000 people in the first year.

Instead, attendance in the first six months at The Commons Mall site has been about 6,700, with another 2,000 served in classroom or special activities.

Tracy Bowling who was watching daughters, Cassie, 7, and Katie, 2, use building materials, has become a regular.

"There's nothing here that the children don't like," Bowling said. "And they do learn."

Bowling particularly liked the family membership option, which allows entry for a year for $25.

As often as she and the children visit, the low membership rate makes it feel like it's free, Bowling said. Also, time restrictions aren't a concern as at other activities, such as movies.

"We can come whenever we want and go whenever we want and not worry about wasting money," Bowling said.

The adult supervision that allows a parent to shop at The Commons without worrying about children's safety is the museum's prime attraction for Terrye Lawrence of Columbus. Lawrence's son held a rag doll-type figure near the museum's front window as she returned from picking up a sandwich for the 6-year-old before heading home.

December 30, 1998

Visitors Center store moves to Commons: Shop will replace Museum Shop

Staff Reports

A new store, operated by the Visitors Center Inc., will open next week in The Commons, in the space now occupied by the Museum Shop of the Indianapolis Museum of Art—Columbus Gallery.

Besides giving out information on the community and its architecture, the new shop will feature merchandise from community organizations. All proceeds will go to these organizations.

Examples of these items are compact discs from the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, shirts from kidscommons and cards and jewelry from Turning Point and Court Appointed Special Advocates.

The shop also will highlight the work of local artists.

Dick Johnson, president of the Visitors Center Board, sees this expansion as an opportunity to make the center's services more accessible to residents and visitors.

The museum shop, which opened in November 1991, will close Thursday.

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