Family Landmark Gets Permanent Protection

With commercial development rapidly expanding in the nearby area, a homeowner in Fort Wayne can rest easy that her historic family home won’t be torn down for a fast food franchise or a used-car lot.

Lewis House House, Fort Wayne

The Power of Easements

By donating an easement on her family’s property to Indiana Landmarks, Linda Leslie has made us responsible for making sure future owners preserve the home’s historic and architectural character.

Like many historic homes, the property’s evolution over time speaks to its long history and the people who have occupied it. The earliest part of the Federal-style home was built in the 1840s by dairy farmer Alloyus “Lewis” Houser sometime in the 1840s. Houser applied the attractive hallmarks of the then-popular Federal style to his new home, including a simple cornice, attractive door surround, and divided-light sash. In 1906, the house doubled in size when its owners added wing to the original house, creating a “T” shaped plan. Almost 100 years after its original construction, the house grew again when Linda’s grandparents purchased the property and expanded it. Their addition carefully blended materials, windows, roofline and doors to integrate the newer section of the house with the oldest.

“My grandfather was related to Gene Stratton Porter, who was a bestselling author in the early twentieth century. In spite of her financial success, Gene saw the beauty in simple vernacular architecture and cared passionately about conservation. I wanted my old home and the surrounding five acres that goes with it to be protected by the example she set,” says Linda.

A preservation easement — a legal agreement — gives a qualified nonprofit organization like Indiana Landmarks the right and obligation to protect a structure’s exterior from changes that would compromise its character. Although an easement places restrictions that require Indiana Landmarks’ approval of exterior changes, the owner retains title and is free to use, sell, lease or give the property away. Because the easement is perpetual — recorded and attached to the deed — it is binding on all future owners, and on Indiana Landmarks. In some cases, there can be tax advantages to donating an easement.

Do you own a historic property that deserves protection? Learn more about Indiana Landmarks’ easement program, or contact the regional office nearest you for more information.

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