History of the Tannenbaum Cultural Center
Steam Plant History
Less than six months after the jail opened, Montgomery County officials noticed heating issues with the Rotary Jail. The contractors made minor adjustments to the boiler below the cell block, but problems persisted. In August 1887, County Commissioners reviewed bids for a new heating system. They chose J. H. Kirkhoff of Indianapolis to build an off-site heating unit that would supply heat for the jail and the County Courthouse through underground pipes. Kirkhoff’s plan also called for the optimum temperature to be lowered from 70° to 65°. The engine house, or steam plant, a one-story brick and stone building with a slate roof, was built just west of the jail by Sherman Craig.
Craig was given 54 days to complete the contract. The cornerstone was laid August 31, 1887, and the foundation was completed by September 7. Contractors even worked on Sundays to ensure that the job would be completed on schedule. In October, the Commissioners received a report about issues with the 71 foot-tall brick stack and work stopped briefly. After the Commissioners were assured that the stack was satisfactory, work resumed. In mid-November, testing on the system began. Heat from the boilers failed to reach the second story of the courthouse. Too much steam from the underground pipes was creating a hazard at the intersection of Washington and Market Street. Although the courthouse received its own boiler, the Rotary Jail continued to use the boiler in the steam plant until 1928, when new heating and plumbing were installed.
The steam plant building was used as a garage and then a storage area for the museum for many years. In Feburary 2009, the board of the Montgomery County Cultural Foundation voted to mobe forward with renovation of the building. After securing multiple grants, construction began. The plan called for adding heat, air conditioning and electricity, while retaining the historical integrity of the building. Additionally, a kitchenette, handicapped accessible rest room and ramp, and two kilns were installed.
The Tannenbaum Cultural Center opened on September 16th, 2011. The Museum uses the Tannenbaum Cultural Center for classes, lectures, rentals, summer camps, and other special events.
Max Tannenbaum was born in Crawfordsville in August 1899 to Moses Max and Ida Tannenbaum. Max attended Crawfordsville High School and military school in Staunton, Virginia. He attended Wabash College from 1918-1922 and graduated from Harvard Law School. He worked at a law firm in New York City until he returned to Crawfordsville after his father’s death in 1930. During World War II, he served in the military. He became interested in the Montgomery County Historical Society and the county’s history. When a new jail was built and the Rotary Jail was abandoned, Tannenbaum was one of the first involved in preserving the building. He helped to found the Montgomery County Cultural Foundation and place the Rotary Jail on the National Register in 1975. At his death in 1984, he continued to support the Rotary Jail Museum financially by leaving a trust to support the museum’s operations. Without his untiring efforts and financial support, it is doubtful the Rotary Jail Museum would exist.
The Montgomery County Civic Band
The Tannenbaum Cultural Center is the summer rehearsal home for the Montgomery County Civic Band. The Civic Band performs at Lane Place regularly during the summer, and rehearses weekly at the TCC. We are very fortunate to host this group of talented musicians under the leadership of Conductor Gary Ketchum.
The Civic Band rehearsing at TCC.
The band during a summer performance on the grounds of Lane Place in Crawfordsville, Indiana.