If you’ve ever cooked your Thanksgiving turkey in a black oval roaster flecked with gray specks, there’s a good chance you’re using an item made by Columbian Home Products. For the last century, this manufacturer has created porcelain on steel pans and other specialty cookware in a historic plant in downtown Terre Haute.
Columbian set up its historic factory on Beech Street at the turn of the twentieth century after fires claimed previous locations in Ohio and Illinois. To prevent the new production facility from meeting a similar fate, the company spent $2 million building a foundry-style factory and administration building in sturdy brick, concrete, and steel, complete with a sprinkler system. The self-contained site pumped its own water, generated its own electricity, and manned its own fire and security services.
The facility was so well planned that it continues to serve modern manufacturing operations. Columbian’s signature Granite Ware is still made on machines dating back to 1918. Generations of families share the durable pans, touted for their versatility and affordability. Collectors prize the Hoosier Gray line, no longer manufactured since the recipe for its production died with the inventor.
Alas, the factory in Terre Haute is not open for regular tours, but you can still buy Granite Ware at a number of nationwide retailers. For a list of products and retailers, visit http://www.columbianhp.com/index.html.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums—you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.