In February 1918, the hardwood floor of the Indianola Park Dance Pavilion on N. 4th St. hosted something unusual: Ohio State University basketball.

Normally, the Ohio State basketball team practiced and played in the Armory on campus. In 1918, forces were being mustered for World War I and soldiers were being quartered in the Armory. Coach Lynn St. John (namesake of St. John Arena) had to find someplace else for his team to play or cancel the rest of the season.

Indianola Park came to the rescue. Ohio State had its daily practices (The coach had players jog up hill from High St. to the park) and played the final seven home games of its 1917-18 season on the dance floor at Indianola.

Ohio State's first game at Indianola on February 9 was one to remember. Before an enthusiastic crowd of 800, the Buckeyes bested undefeated rival Indiana 32-28. The polished dance floor was something different for the ball players. "The slippery floor spoiled many a good shot and it was no unusual sight to see the referee and some of the players sprawling at the same time," read the sports page in The Ohio State Journal the next day. By the contest's end, all of the players on both teams and each of the referees had taken at least one good spill.

After the game was over, the park brought out the orchestra and invited basketball fans to stay for a dance.



Elsie Janis was a University District girl (Born and raised on 5th Ave!) who made good in musical theater in the early 1910s. She was a breakout hit on Broadway in 1906's "The Vanderbilt Cup."

Elsie went from success to success afterwards on the stage, songwriting, recording, and even a turn in motion pictures. By 1917, she was a big name star.

Elsie always remained connected to her Ohio home and maintained a residence in the University District she called El-Jann Shack at 2020 N. High (where the Wendy's is now).Elsie frequently stayed at El-Jann in her offitime , visiting family and local friends and ebtertaining guests from New York and Hollywood,

When the war broke out, Elsie threw her all into it. She staged concert after concert in support of Liberty Loan drives before heading to the battlefields of France to perform virtually non-stop for US troops. Elsie's tireless efforts on behalf of America's fighting men earned her the title "Sweetheart of the Allied Expeditionary Force."

Elsie always delighted in running into Ohio boys in France and would lead them in Ohio State cheers and songs and reminisce about the Buckeye State.

After the war, Janis' career took a hit because she was identified so strongly with the war years in the minds of audiences ready to forget those dark days.