Goshen Police Booth

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History of the Police Booth…

According to a December 6, 1938 story in the News-Democrat, the City of Goshen received approval for a $1,794 allotment of WPA funds to build a “municipal police control station” on the northwest corner of the Lincoln Avenue and Main Street intersection. The city was spending an additional $1,500 for the project and the limestone was being donated by the City of Bedford, Indiana.

Construction inside a wooden shelter was begun shortly after the funding was approved with labor provided by the WPA. The 2-inch thick bullet-proof glass windows were donated by Salem Bank & Trust Company and First National Bank. Controls for the heating and ventilation were supplied by Penn Electric Switch Company. Other local contributors were Hettrick Manufacturing Company and Manrow Sheet Metal Company.                  

The booth was placed in operation at an “unveiling” ceremony on February 25, 1939.

The building itself was described as octagonal in shape with outside walls of limestone and bullet-proof glass windows. The interior was finished with three-ply veneer and the turret tower roof was made of copper sheeting.

It was originally electrically heated, but later converted to natural gas. The counter had three desktops with each having a drawer, telephone, police radio and electric fan for summer use. The floor was four feet above the sidewalk level and was covered with rubber matting.

When the booth went operational all telephone calls to the police were received at the control station. A special box with a telephone was installed on the sidewalk for pedestrians to use to talk with the officers on duty. The fire station and the police booth were equipped with a “teletalk” radio system so that they could communicate with each other directly.

Uses over the years… 

1939-1966:   Police telephone center; 24/7 police presence for public access; location of fire siren sounded to clear intersection when fire vehicles approached Lincoln and Main; the place to pay any parking ticket fines.

1967-1969:  Police radio transmitting headquarters and information center. All calls for help to police were handled in the booth with officers being dispatched where needed.

1969-1983:  Headquarters for city’s parking meter maids and a visitor center.

1983-present: City gave booth to Goshen Historical Society.  After some restoration and other improvements, the Police Booth was re-dedicated as a historical site in 1996.

Fact or Fiction…

FICTION — The booth was built to protect the banks from John Dillinger.

FACT — Dillinger and other gangsters were in the news during the 1930s and though criminal activity happened in northern Indiana, there were never any problems in Goshen.  Dillinger was killed by the FBI in 1934 over 4 years before the booth was built. The booth has a clear view of the banks on the corners and a primary intersection in the downtown and therefore did serve as a kind of security blanket for the community. There was an officer on duty available to the public in the booth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.

FICTION — There were tunnels connecting the booth to the banks, public restrooms and/or the courthouse.

FACT — The booth has a crawl space under the floor that contains heating, plumbing and electrical services. There are no connecting tunnels to any other buildings.

FICTION — The slots in the upper turret were designed for machine guns and the portals in the windows were for shooting at bank robbers.

FACT — The slots and portals were for ventilating the booth. There is no record of any gunfire from any source being directed at the booth or coming from the booth.

Police Booth Hours…

The police booth is open for public viewing during designated First Friday celebrations from 5:00-9:00 pm. Other viewings may be scheduled by calling the Goshen Historical Society at
574-975-0033.

For more local history visit our Goshen Historical Society Museum. 

Preserving and sharing the ongoing story of Goshen