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Ind. Landmarks announces state's 10 Most Endangered

5/2/2011

Contact: Tina Connor, Executive Vice President, 317-639-4534 / 800-450-4534 (cell 317-946-3127), tconnor@indianalandmarks.org  or Jen Thomas, 317-441-2487, jen@jtprinc.com

 

Digital photos are available by contacting Mike Wiltrout, 317-639-4534, mwiltrout@indianalandmarks.org

 

“Some of the landmarks in jeopardy are large, multi-building sites in rural settings. In urban areas, we have landmarks collapsing in neglect while other perfectly sturdy structures in active use may be flattened by new development that mimics the vintage streetscape. All of these places are full of memories and meaning and potential,” says Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit preservation organization.

 

“The sites that achieve 10 Most Endangered status are important and irreplaceable—and often challenging to save. These landmarks reconnect us to our shared heritage. They’re meaningful places that can be saved and can spur broader revitalization,” he adds.  Indiana Landmarks uses the Most Endangered list to bring attention to the imperiled sites and mobilize support for their preservation.

 

Since the inception of the Most Endangered program in 1991, Indiana Landmarks counts just 10 losses among more than 85 historic places that have appeared on the list. The 2011 Most Endangered list includes six new entries and four landmarks making repeat appearances (see addendum for more details).

 

New on the list:

George DeBaptiste House, Madison

Downtown Greenwood, Johnson County

Haven Hubbard Home, New Carlisle

Sylvan Springs, Rome City

Taggart Memorial, Riverside Park, Indianapolis

Taylor Dome, Taylor University, Upland

 

Update: Recent developments revealed that the previously listed Taylor Dome in Upland does not appear to be endangered as originally believed. We have removed it from the 10 Most Endangered list. Stay tuned -- we'll be updating the list soon. 

 

Repeating from 2010 list:

Farmers Institute, southwest of Lafayette

Roberts Memorial Building, Connersville

St. John’s Hospital, Gary

Historic windows, statewide

 

The prospects of four places on the 2010 Most Endangered list improved enough that Indiana Landmarks removed the critical label: Jacobs Wild Animal Circus Barns in Peru, Plainfield Diner in Plainfield, Washington Avenue Historic District in Evansville, and the John Work House near Charlestown. The future of two 2010 entries remains uncertain: a developer’s proposal to adapt Bush Stadium in Indianapolis as housing offers promise, while the Syracuse Depot still suffers in limbo with no agreement between CSX and local boosters.

 

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Background information on 10 Most Endangered – Addendum

 

George DeBaptiste House, 760 Jefferson St., Madison  (new entry)

        Without swift help, a rare landmark of African American history will crumble. Strong evidence suggests that George DeBaptiste, a prominent leader of the anti-slavery movement and Underground Railroad activist, lived in a c.1830 house in Madison. Today, most passers-by would call the house in the Georgetown neighborhood a ruin.

 

        A free black who managed the Madison station on the Underground Railroad, DeBaptiste aided slaves escaping from Kentucky by conducting them to nearby Lancaster, where others hid the refugees before helping them travel north. With help from a Madison lawyer, DeBaptiste challenged a state law established in 1831 that required free blacks to pay a $500 bond to remain in the state. He later served as William Henry Harrison’s personal valet and White House steward, returning to Madison following Harrison’s death in 1841.

 

        The roof and masonry walls of the Federal-style house are collapsing, the interior floors gone.  Unaware until recently of the townhouse’s significant history, the owners say they may transfer the building to a nonprofit that could raise funds for immediate stabilization and restoration.

 

Contacts for media use:

Greg Sekula, Director, Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Office, 812-284-4534, gsekula@indianalandmarks.org Camille Fife, Preservation Planner, City of Madison, 812-239-1107 or 812-265-8300, wgimadison@aol.com

 

Downtown Greenwood, Johnson County  (new entry)

        Nearly a quarter of downtown Greenwood’s historic commercial district could be razed and replaced with new buildings that imitate the vintage ones. Mayor Charles Henderson wants to acquire and demolish seven commercial buildings near the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue. He plans to widen the street and redevelop the site with architecture that mimics the Italianate-style and Classical Revival-style buildings he proposes to tear down.

 

        The nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century buildings remain in good condition, housing several businesses. The Mayor’s plan is an issue in the primary election, where three Republicans vying with the long-term incumbent oppose the demolition.

 

        “Greenwood has become defined more by its sprawl and mall than by its neighborhoods and downtown,” says Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks Vice President of Preservation Services. “Retaining these buildings is key to maintaining an individual character for the community. Rather than creating new structures that imitate the original, why not hang onto the real thing?”

 

Contacts for media use:

Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks’ VP of Preservation Services, mdollase@indianalandmarks.org or Rebecca Smith, Community Preservation Specialist, rsmith@indianalandmarks.org; both at 317-639-4534, Jennifer Hollingshead, local preservationist, 317-889-3252, jenniferhollingshead@gmail.com

 

Farmers Institute, seven miles southwest of Lafayette (repeat entry)

        Quakers who migrated to the Midwest in the 1820s built the Farmers Institute Academy in 1851 and an accompanying boarding house in 1854. The Greek Revival-style complex became a cultural center offering a subscription school, public library, and literary and debating society, drawing students from throughout the state as well as Ohio, Illinois and Iowa.

 

        The community-minded Society of Friends later allowed the building to serve as a public high school and library until the advent of public schools and Purdue University. By 1889, the school had closed and the academy building was used solely as a meeting house (the Quaker term for church). The pews and furniture—even many of the books in the library—are original, evidence of the congregation’s sense of stewardship and heritage across generations.

 

        Even with conscientious stewards and National Register status, landmarks can face jeopardy. The little-used meeting house and vacant boarding house rest in preservation limbo. Unless the congregation decides to disband, and the Quaker governing body approves, the landmarks can’t be sold or put to a new use.

 

Contacts for media use:

Tommy Kleckner, Indiana Landmarks Western Regional Office, 812-232-4534, tkleckner@indianalandmarks.org Mark Naylor, Farmers Institute Friends Meeting, 765-764-5060 or 765-430-2658

 

Haven Hubbard Home, 31869 Chicago Trail, New Carlisle (new entry)

        The Hubbard family arrived in St. Joseph County in the 1830s buying land near New Carlisle. Generations of Hubbards enlarged the farm while also succeeding in business, banking and the law. After Haven Hubbard died childless in 1916, his widow Arminia gave a religious denomination the 750-acre family farm and nineteenth-century homestead, with enough money to build the Haven Hubbard Memorial Old People’s Home.

 

        The Classical Revival-style building opened in 1922 and saw name changes and additions over the decades that enlarged it to 117,000 square feet. Eight years ago, the institution built a new facility close by and closed the old place with its 174 guest rooms. We must find a new use for the handsome, solid landmark or it will be demolished.

 

Contacts for media use:

Todd Zeiger, Director, Indiana Landmarks Northern Regional Office, 574-232-4534, tzeiger@indianalandmarks.org Dana Groves, Executive Director, Historic New Carlisle, 574-654-3897, historicnc@townofnewcarlisle.com

 

Historic windows, statewide (repeat entry)

        According to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, windows are “character-defining features” critical to the appearance of historic buildings, but original windows and the architectural character they represent are piling up in landfills everywhere.

 

        While the window replacement industry spends millions to convince people that old windows are energy losers, studies show that most heat loss in old houses is through the roof, not the windows. In fact, the payback in energy cost savings on replacement windows is generally longer than the expected lifespan of the window. Instead, owners can save original architecture and the environment by repairing and painting the wood (or steel) elements of windows, glazing, caulking, weather stripping, and adding storm windows or retrofitting original sash with double-pane glass. Well-maintained original windows will last much longer than vinyl replacements, sparing landfills of both the originals and the replacements.

 

        In this era of necessary thrift and conservation consciousness, Indiana Landmarks suggests returning to the save-and-repair ethic of earlier generations. In addition to raising awareness through the 10 Most Endangered status, Indiana Landmarks stages window restoration workshops and offers helpful information on its website, www.indianalandmarks.org.

 

Contact for media use:

Mark Dollase, VP of Preservation Services, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534 / 800-450-4534, mdollase@indianalandmarks.org

 

Roberts Memorial Building, Connersville (repeat entry)

        Losing its original use should not doom a building, especially one built to last by the Depression era labor and talent of the WPA. The Roberts Memorial Building in Connersville’s city park hosted family reunions, square dances, exercise classes and other community functions for decades before it was sidelined by a new facility.

 

        The Works Progress Administration constructed the yellow brick building in 1936 along with several other features in Roberts Park, an 80-acre site donated to the city by Connersville businessman John Roberts in 1902. About a decade ago, the construction of a community building in the park left the landmark underutilized. Given its limited use and facing rising heating and air conditioning bills, the city closed Roberts (locally known as the 4H building).

 

        Vacant structures are always vulnerable—particularly one located in a park where reuse options are limited—and some have called for demolition. Broken windows and peeling paint should not spell the end for this otherwise sturdy tribute to what human hands in another hard-pressed era created for the community.

 

Contacts for media use:

J.P. Hall, Director, Indiana Landmarks Eastern Regional Office, 765-478-3172, jphall@indianalandmarks.org Jim Orr, local preservationist, 765-825-9302, jrorr47331@yahoo.com

 

St. John’s Hospital, 22nd Avenue and Massachusetts Street, Gary (repeat entry)

        Deterioration may soon render St. John’s Hospital unrecoverable. A significant landmark of Gary’s African American heritage, St. John’s rescue could prove a tipping point in revitalizing the city’s Midtown area, where many buildings designed and built by and for African Americans are endangered and declining.

 

        Opened in 1929, the brick building recalls an era when most public hospitals in Indiana did not admit African American patients or allow black doctors to practice. Constructed privately to serve the segregated population, St. John’s was designed by African American architect William Wilson Cooke in a Prairie-influenced style.

 

        The hospital provided previously unavailable medical services and operated with a staff of black surgeons and nurses. It continued in service long after the Gary’s Methodist and Mercy hospitals began accepting African American patients in 1930, functioning as a hospital until it closed in 1950.

 

        The vacant and vandalized landmark suffers broken windows, crumbling brick, water damage—and an owner unable to invest in repairs. In the past year, an African American Heritage Grant from Indiana Landmarks funded a professional conditions assessment, and the Gary, East Chicago, Hammond Empowerment Zone is negotiating with the owner and the city to plan a future for the building.

 

Contacts for media use:

Tiffany Tolbert, Director, Indiana Landmarks Northwest Field Office, 219-947-2657, ttolbert@indianalandmarks.org Sondra Ford, Gary, East Chicago, Hammond Empowerment Zone,  219-886-9572 x 17, sondraford@aol.com Dr. Earl Jones, professor of African-American Studies at Indiana University Northwest, 219-980-6704, ejones@iun.edu

 

Sylvan Springs, Rome City  (new entry)

        Beginning in 1910, Catholic nuns took over a health resort on the edge of Sylvan Lake. They operated Sylvan Springs as a spiritual health spa offering spring water treatments, exercise, nutrition and herbal remedies to cure TB and host of other afflictions.

 

        Sufferers bathed in the springs, drank the waters, and prayed for relief in the chapel and outdoor shrine. One of the nuns claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to her, attracting even more visitors.  Some attribute startling cures to Sylvan Springs, and people still make pilgrimages, even though the nuns sold Sylvan Springs in 1976.  The Way International, a religious group that some consider a cult, operated a college there for 20 years.

 

        The Neoclassical main sanitarium, enlarged with additions over many decades, includes 248 guest rooms and an attached chapel. Cottages, barns and other outbuildings remain from the time when a farm on the property produced the herbs and food for the sisters and their guests. Foreclosed by a lender, Sylvan Springs faces an uncertain future with roofs that need attention soon.

 

Contacts for media use:

Todd Zeiger, Director, Indiana Landmarks Northern Regional Office, 574-232-4534, tzeiger@indianalandmarks.org John Bry, Executive Director, Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 877-202-5761, john@visitnoblecounty.com

 

Taggart Memorial, Riverside Park, Indianapolis (new entry)

        A monument to one of Indiana’s early leaders needs restoration before it deteriorates beyond repair. In its present condition, the Thomas Taggart Memorial—a limestone colonnade and fountain in Indianapolis’s Riverside Park—is hardly a fitting honor to the Irish immigrant who rose to become mayor of Indianapolis, U.S. Senator, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and owner of the French Lick Springs Hotel. The Neoclassical landmark was erected in 1931, two years after Taggart’s death.

 

        As mayor from 1895 to 1901, Taggart created the city park system, acquiring hundreds of acres along White River, as well as land for Brookside and Highland parks, among others. He believed the citizens of the increasingly industrialized city needed green space for reflection and recreation. When he left office in 1901, Taggart bought the French Lick Springs Hotel, which he made a social and political hub of national renown.

 

        The Taggart Memorial fountain doesn’t work, and an unsightly fence surrounds the monument to protect the public from its unsafe condition. Taggart’s Indianapolis legacy—a parks system available to all citizens of the capital city—deserves the honor of a fountain that works and a graceful, safe colonnade. Indiana Landmarks is investigating how private funds might be raised to restore his memorial.

 

Contacts for media use:

Mark Dollase, Vice President of Preservation Services, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534 / 800-450-4534, mdollase@indianalandmarks.org Phyllis Hackett, Riverside Civic League, 317-590-0647, pjhackett@hotmail.com

 

Taylor Dome, Taylor University, Upland (new entry)

        In 1957, Taylor University’s trustees wanted to distinguish the college as a unique and visionary institution so they selected the futuristic domed design of Indiana-born Orus Orville Eash for the student union. Twelve arched beams, anchored in tons of concrete and connected by underground rods, met at the Dome’s twenty-five foot apex. Twelve-foot-high windows ringed the perimeter. It was a bold, progressive statement for a Midwestern school looking to stand out.

 

        Since then, however, the school seems to have developed a case of innovator’s regret. Hulking pine trees make the dome seem like an embarrassment they’re trying to hide. Walls and dividers obscure the once clear-span interior. Worst of all, the university’s master plan shows a parking lot where the Dome now stands.

 

        In ’50s and ’60s, when many considered Victorian architecture dated and ugly, Indiana lost too many magnificent historic buildings to the wrecking ball, structures most people would love to have back. Indiana Landmarks hopes the Most Endangered status will help save this Mid-Century Modern gem from the same fate.

 

Contact for media use:

Cathy Wright, Director, Indiana Landmarks North Central Field Office, 260-563-4534, cwright@indianalandmarks.org

 


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