Saved in Perpetuity: Easements Safeguard Character

When people want to safeguard the landmark character of their house or business, a preservation easement donated to a preservation organization may be the surest tool. In the past year, Indiana Landmarks accepted easements that oblige us to look after fantastic houses, a Jewish temple, and a historic pumping station now being converted to a brewpub.


Ron Morris donated a preservation easement to protect the character of the James Rariden House (center) in Centerville, a rowhouse that was once owned by an Indiana congressman.

When Indiana Landmarks accepts a preservation easement, we commit to keeping an eye on the property and protecting its historic appearance, both now and in the future. Most of the time, easements primarily protect the exterior, though in some cases owners specify special interior features that should be preserved. Easements do not suggest that structures cannot be adapted or altered, but that the character of the place must be preserved.

The 1901 Columbus Pump House is poised for a repurposing, not its first. Designed by Harrison Albright—architect of the West Baden Springs Hotel—the building served the city’s water works until the ‘50s, when it was adapted as a machine shop. The landmark returned to city hands in the ‘70s, housing redevelopment commission offices and later serving as the city’s senior center.

When the city decided to sell the landmark, it donated an easement to Indiana Landmarks to protect the exterior. It’s a protection that new owner Tony Moravec can get behind. Owner of Blairex Laboratories, Moravec holds a long track record of rehabbing historic buildings, including his heroic restoration and reopening of Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor. “I’m sensitive to historic buildings, so I’ve had nothing but a good experience working with Indiana Landmarks,” says Moravec.

After snagging Bloomington-based Upland Brewery Company as a tenant, his company Moravec Realty LLC is converting the 15,700 square-foot building into a brewpub. He expects the renovation will cost about $2 million, including a new roof and a geothermal HVAC system. “The bones are in decent shape, but pretty much everything beyond that needs fixing,” he notes. The project will be a joint effort with his son Ryan, who has also caught the preservation bug in Columbus

The pump house’s open layout, exposed brick, industrial vibe, and setting near the river appealed to Upland Brewing Company President Doug Dayhoff, whose original brewery occupies a century-old building in Bloomington. Indiana Landmarks has approved the design of a patio deck so diners can take advantage of the river view. “It’s just a spectacular building and location. Fans of Upland will feel like it’s a very Uplandy kind of place,” says Dayhoff.

Salem residents Raymond and Tina Lee spent the past two decades rehabilitating their Second Empire-style residence on Highway 56 at the edge of the downtown historic district, an area impacted by new development and highway projects. “We donated the easement to make sure our house doesn’t get torn down,” says Raymond. Raymond, who has also helped lead the Friends of Beck’s Mill group and the local historical society, recounts his home’s unusual origin. The story goes that after Washington County’s second courthouse was condemned, Albert Shrum, who owned a brickyard, combined his own products with brick and wood salvaged from the condemned building to build the house around 1886.

In the past year, Indiana Landmarks also received preservation easements from Ron Morris for the James Rariden House in Centerville, from The 1852 Foundation for the Moses Fowler House in Lafayette, from Paul Hayden for the Kauffman House in South Bend, and from Ligonier Public Library for the former Ahavath Sholom Temple in Ligonier.

If you’re interested in exploring the potential for a preservation easement, contact our regional office nearest you.

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