10 Most Endangered Places in Indiana Announced

Indiana Landmarks announces its annual list of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy

Indiana Landmarks today announced its 10 Most Endangered, an annual list of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy.

“Places that land on the 10 Most Endangered often face a combination of problems rather than a single threat,” says Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit preservation organization. “A bid for demolition is a loud signal, of course, but many of these sites suffer abandonment, neglect, dilapidation, obsolete use, unreasonable above-market sale price, sympathetic owners who simply lack money for repairs, an out-of-the-way location—or its opposite,  encroaching sprawl that makes the land more valuable without the landmark.”

Indiana Landmarks populates the 10 Most list with important structures that have reached a dire point. “Calling attention helps,” says Davis. “These places are not lost causes. All have the potential for revival and reuse.”

“These landmarks preserve connections to community heritage. Time and again, we find that restoring one important place spurs broader revitalization in a community,” Davis adds. Indiana Landmarks uses the Most Endangered list to bring attention to the imperiled sites and find solutions that will ensure their preservation.

Indiana Landmarks announced the first 10 Most Endangered in 1991. Since then, 112 historic places in severe jeopardy have appeared on the list, with only 13 lost to demolition. This year’s list includes eight new entries and two landmarks making repeat appearances (see addendum for more on each site).

The new 10 Most Endangered in 2016 are:

1.            Beech Church, Carthage vicinity

2.            Hazelwood, Muncie

3.            Speakman House, Rising Sun

4.            Washington County Courthouse, Salem

5.            Monon High Bridge, near Delphi

6.            Pryor’s Country Place, Fox Lake near Angola

7.            Ford Motor Company Assembly Branch, Indianapolis

8.            Southside Turnverein Hall, Indianapolis

Landmarks repeating on the list from the previous year include:

9.            Camp Chesterfield, Chesterfield

10.         Rivoli Theatre, Indianapolis

The fates of several landmarks named to the 10 Most Endangered in 2015 have improved dramatically, demonstrating the effectiveness of the list.

•             Indiana Medical History Museum in the 1895 Old Pathology Building in Indianapolis received donations and a grant to replace the leaking roof.

•             McCurdy Hotel in Evansville has gone from vacant to active with construction workers converting it to apartments.

•             United Brethren Block, three interconnected buildings on the courthouse square in Huntington, won a demolition reprieve with a redevelopment prospect

•             Bedford Elks Lodge is now watertight, thanks to the Bedford Urban Enterprise Association, which is exploring reuse options.

To find out more about each of the 10 Most Endangered, visit or contact Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534 or 800-450-4534.


Photos available on request.

Media contacts:
Tina Connor, Executive Vice President, 317-639-4534 / 800-450-4534 (cell 317-946-3127), Jen Thomas, JTPR, Inc., 317-441-2487,

Regional and local contacts for each site listed in the addendum below.


Indiana Landmarks saves places that matter, revitalizing neighborhoods and communities. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. Learn more.

ADDENDUM – Background information 10 Most Endangered places / 2016

Beech Church
Carthage vicinity, Rush County

Free blacks made their way from North Carolina to Rush County long before the Civil War, drawn by the presence of a large antislavery Quaker population. They established the Beech Settlement near Carthage in 1828 and in 1832 created the African Methodist Episcopal Church, believed to be first A.M.E. church in Indiana. They built the surviving white frame church around 1865.

The congregation advanced the fortunes of its settlement by establishing a library in the simple Greek Revival church. The original subscribers pledged 12 1/2 to 25 cents to buy books for the lending library at a time when less than a quarter of the adult population of the settlement was literate.

Many of the descendants of the original Beech Church families achieved prominence in education, medicine, politics and the A.M. E. church. Beech Church alone remains to represent the Beech Settlement, one of Indiana’s nineteenth-century African American farming communities and a significant chapter in Indiana history.

The descendants still gather for a reunion at “The Beech” every August, but the structure is otherwise seldom used. The landmark needs a new foundation and other repairs—and a long-term preservation strategy.

Media contacts: J.P. Hall, Director, Indiana Landmarks Eastern Regional Office, 765-478-3172, cell 574-309-4299,; Doug Jones, Beech Settlement descendant,  317-201-8215,

1400 West University Avenue, Muncie

When the Colonial Revival-style house was built in 1915 for Alva and Leslie Kitselman, it immediately won notice as one of Muncie’s finest residences, rivaling those of the Ball brothers. An industrialist with a variety of business interests, Kitselman held a patent on a machine that wove wire fencing. With his brothers he started a company that made wire for the telephone and telegraph industries, and for fencing.

Inspired by a home they had seen on their honeymoon, the Kitselmans recruited an architect to design their mansion of white glazed brick and grey marble on what is now University Avenue. The landscaping included a pond with lighted fountain and swans. Peacocks roamed the grounds. They christened the place Hazelwood recognizing the hazelnut trees on the estate.

In 1951, a congregation bought the property and built a church next door, renamed in honor of the site’s heritage. They used the mansion for church offices and a fellowship hall. Today, the congregation can’t afford the house and last year solicited a demolition quote, citing the cost of repairs and annual upkeep.

Media contacts: J.P. Hall, Director, Indiana Landmarks Eastern Regional Office, 765-478-3172, cell 574-309-4299,; Bill Ritchie, Trustee Chairman, Hazelwood Christian Church, 765-749-2594,

Speakman House
Old State Road 56, Rising Sun

Long deferred maintenance and vacancy threaten one of Indiana’s great nineteenth-century houses. The Speakman House, built in 1846 of bricks baked on site, sits above Laughery Creek with a view of the Ohio River north of Rising Sun.

After Stephen Speakman died in 1853, his widow remained, relying on freed slaves for farm labor and to take care of the house, keeping it warm by tending to the nine fireplaces.

Local legend suggests the farm was part of the Underground Railroad network, that it sits atop an Indian burial mound, that the ghost of a lad who drowned in the creek haunts the nearby National Register-listed Laughery Creek Bridge.

The historic porches are collapsing, the roof leaks, and the 17-room interior suffers water damage. The ownership structure—two owners, one with a life estate—makes a sale complicated, but the great house desperately needs a restoration-minded new owner.

Media contacts: Jarrad Holbrook, Director, Indiana Landmarks Southeast Field Office, 812-926-0983, cell 404-909-5219,; Cliff Thies, Director, Ohio County Historical Society Museum, 812-438-4915,

Washington Co. Courthouse
Courthouse Square, Salem

Most people would be surprised to learn that a venerable nineteenth-century courthouse faces jeopardy, but the Washington County Courthouse is endangered. At the center of the National Register-listed courthouse square in Salem, the 1888 courthouse towers over the landscape, an imposing reflection of the commitment our nineteenth-century counterparts gave to this symbol of community life and justice.

Louisville architect Harry P. McDonald designed the building in the Romanesque Revival style, using artfully rusticated Indiana limestone with arched entryways and a conical clock/bell tower to convey solidity and strength.

The appearance of solidity is deceiving. Lightning struck the beacon-like tower in 1934, sparking a fire. Ill-conceived repairs at the time trapped water in the stone and caused deterioration over the intervening decades, making the tower unstable. The structure needs reinforcement before a high wind causes a collapse. Chronic roof and masonry leaks also require urgent attention.

In a rural county with limited resources, it will be a tough challenge to find the money to rehabilitate the courthouse.

Media contacts: Greg Sekula, Director, Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Office, 812-284-4534, cell 502-216-8998,; Jeremy Elliott, Washington County Historian, John Hay Center, 812-595-7481,

Monon High Bridge
Spanning Deer Creek gorge near Delphi, Carroll County

Ever since it was built in 1891, people have tested their nerves by illegally walking the High Bridge, a span that carried trains far above the Deer Creek Valley until it was abandoned by CSX in 1987. At 63 feet above Deer Creek, it is believed to be Indiana’s second highest bridge after the Tulip Trestle near Bloomfield in northeastern Greene County.

Folks in Carroll County love their historic bridges—more than 30 of them. They’ve preserved them for vehicular and pedestrian uses and imported and restored one discarded by another county to carry a trail across a highway. They’d like to incorporate the High Bridge in growing trail system in and around Delphi.

For years they’ve worried that CSX might demolish the High Bridge, and now nature has joined neglect to jeopardize the bridge. Badly eroded by the waters of Deer Creek, a stone pier that supports the bridge could collapse and damage the bridge to a point beyond rescue.

Media contacts: Tommy Kleckner, Director, Indiana Landmarks Western Regional Office, 812-232-4534, cell 812-249-3116,; Dan McCain, Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal, Inc., 765-412-4308,

Pryor’s Country Place
1540 West Fox Lake Road, Angola

For much of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, African Americans couldn’t vacation at the popular resorts that attracted whites. Segregation limited their opportunities to enjoy lakeside summers. In Indiana, white Fort Wayne businessmen in the 1920s saw a financial opportunity in this inequality and bought land around Fox Lake near Angola. They marketed Fox Lake as a resort destination for affluent blacks.

Built in 1927 as a vacation home and later converted to an inn, Pryor’s Country Place provided lakeside accommodation and recreation to black vacationers. The rustic charm of the cobblestone and clapboard exterior conveyed a connection to nature.

Rumor and physical evidence suggest that liquor flowed from a lakeside still through a pipe into the inn/speakeasy during prohibition.

The long-vacant Pryor’s occupies a five-acre lakefront site that’s for sale, and land is now at a premium on the lake—an equation that puts the landmark in jeopardy.

Media contacts: Todd Zeiger, Director, Indiana Landmarks Northern Regional Office, 574-232-4534, cell 574-286-5765,; Jimmy Roberts, President, Fox Lake Association, 313-207-2388,; Carol Karst-Wasson, board member, Fox Lake Association, 317-773-8762, or

Ford Motor Company Assembly Branch
1301 East Washington Street, Indianapolis

A prolific auto manufacturing plant stands neglected on the historic National Road—Washington Street—in downtown Indianapolis.  Indiana’s reputation in early auto manufacturing proudly claims Stutz, Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Studebaker, and many more. Rarely mentioned is the four-story Ford Assembly Branch at Washington and Oriental that generated 600,000 cars and trucks between 1915 and 1932.

The plant opened with civic fanfare in 1915 as 350 Fords transported the business and political elite from a Chamber of Commerce luncheon to tour the plant. While Indianapolis Mayor Joseph Bell was addressing the crowd, workers reportedly built a Ford that then ferried him back to city hall. After 1932, Ford used the plant for parts service and auto sales into the 1940s.

Indianapolis Public Schools owns the landmark, using only about 40 percent of the space for storage. Huge industrial windows that once flooded the interior with natural light have been boarded or removed. Roof leaks leave standing water on upper floors.

Angie’s List was poised to buy the building for its headquarters, but backed out in 2015, citing concerns about the state legislature’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act vote. IPS is gearing up once again to market the building, which needs immediate roof repair, a new use, and a restoration that recaptures the original look.

Media contacts: Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks Vice President of Preservation Services, 317-639-4534, cell 317-650-1650,; Paul Smith, President, Southeast Neighborhood Development, Inc. (SEND), 317-634-5079,; Dennis Horvath, Secretary, Indiana Automotive affinity group, 317-844-6869,

Southside Turnverein Hall
306 Prospect Street, Indianapolis

Thousands of motorists a day on I-70 travel past the Southside Turnverein Hall, a landmark of Indianapolis’s German heritage in a state of deterioration. Few people visit these days—and because of the interstate, getting there isn’t easy.

Designed by architects Vonnegut & Bohn and built in 1900, it thrived as a center of German culture, with a bowling alley, tavern, gym and meeting space. Membership dwindled and maintenance suffered, as it has for most social clubs and fraternal lodges, before the building sold to a private owner in 1978. Today, the largely vacant building’s gym rents by the hour to basketball teams, and there’s a tavern in the basement.

The German Renaissance Revival-style building needs urgent repairs and a new use and that could lead to restoration. Rudolf Schwarz, the artist responsible for the sculptures on Soldiers and Sailors Monument, created the bas relief in the west gable.

Today, the site suffers neglect. Income from the tavern and the gym, which rents for $35 an hour to corporate basketball teams, can’t repair the crumbling brick or restore the Schwarz bas relief, where naked metal rods protrude in place of the figures’ heads.

Media contacts: Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks Vice President of Preservation Services, 317-639-4534, cell 317-650-1650,; Paul Smith, President, Southeast Neighborhood Development, Inc. (SEND), 317-634-5079,

Camp Chesterfield
50 Lincoln Drive, Chesterfield

Camp Chesterfield, a 40-acre Spiritualist enclave on the banks of the White River north of Anderson, originated in the 1880s. It appeared on the 10 Most Endangered list in 2015 and repeats again this year.

From the mid-nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries, Spiritualism attracted a huge following. Described as the philosophy, science, and religion of continuous life, Spiritualists believe that it is possible to communicate with the dead, especially with the aid of skilled mediums.

After each armed conflict through the Korean War, as the bereaved sought communication with their dead, the camp grew to encompass 65 buildings—major structures and cottages for mediums—as well as folk-art shrines, a fountain, foot bridges, and a deteriorating outdoor grove of “toadstools,” tables flanked by chairs where mediums give individual Spiritualist readings.

As Spiritualism has declined in recent decades, dwindling membership and resources have put the camp’s landmarks in jeopardy, including a vacant 1914 hotel, many cottages, and the distinctive landscape features.

Media contacts: J.P. Hall, Director, Indiana Landmarks’ Eastern Regional Office, 574-478-3172, cell 574-309-4299, (also board member, Friends of Camp Chesterfield Foundation); Suzanne Stanis, Indiana Landmarks Director of Heritage Education, 317-639-4534, (also board member, Friends of Camp Chesterfield Foundation); Michael Taylor, President, Friends of Camp Chesterfield Foundation, 765-602-9749,

Rivoli Theatre
3155 East 10th Street, Indianapolis

The revival of Indianapolis’s Rivoli Theatre could be a catalyst for revitalization on Indianapolis’s east side. First listed among the 10 Most Endangered last year, it repeats on the 2016 list.

The movie house brought Hollywood glamour to East 10th Street when it opened in 1927. Behind a Mission Revival exterior, decorative plaster walls and a domed ceiling enclosed an auditorium that seated 1,500. When movie-goers began heading to suburban multiplexes in the ‘70s, the theater transitioned to hosting live concerts with famous rockers, including Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt, Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Finally, as deterioration escalated, Universal’s first theater in Indiana fell into vacancy. By the time the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts acquired the building in 2007, the auditorium was a water-logged mess. The nonprofit group put a new roof over the auditorium, only to have the roof over the storefronts collapse in 2014.

The Rivoli’s deteriorated state presents a daunting financial hurdle in a neighborhood that needs a revitalization catalyst.

Media contacts: Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks Vice President of Preservation Services, 317-639-4534, cell 317-650-1650,; James Kelly, President, Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., 317-767-1922,


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