Protecting the Past for the Future
Nearly 30 years ago, Fountain County Landmarks figured that the future of Attica’s historic places would eventually depend on those who were in elementary school at the time. They created a program to introduce students to Attica’s history and landmarks. Fountain County Landmarks will receive Indiana Landmarks’ 2017 Servaas Memorial Award for its youth-serving program—still going strong—during our annual meeting on September 10 in Indianapolis.
All Attica fourth graders take a tour that leads them to Cottrell Village, a museum complex with a restored church, houses, an outhouse, smokehouse and garden. “All the kids do the tour in fourth grade, learning Attica’s history and seeing how everything was done in the old days and the effort it took to make things,” says 10 year-old Hayden Nichols. In the following two years, elementary student council members become docents at Cottrell Village.
Dalton Desutter, now a high school senior, took the tour in fourth grade, was a docent in fifth and sixth grades, and participated in a summer ArchiCamp. “We learned to appreciate where we come from,” he says. For example, he and Drew Mandeville, age 11, love Attica’s historic Devon Theatre, and Drew would love to see the old hotel downtown restored. “It’s empty now, but it could be anything,” he declares, a budding preservationist touting adaptive use.
For Attica’s Sesquicentennial, retired teachers and Fountain County Landmarks volunteers Lee Bauerband and Carolyn Carlson created a more intensive new curriculum in 2015 and 2016, adding more field trips to local landmarks. “Attica’s citizens, young and old, are more appreciative of the community’s past, and better prepared to preserve it, because of this program,” says Carolyn Carlson, a sentiment echoed by two former mayors and the school superintendent.
The Servaas Memorial Award in the nonprofit organization category, which comes with a $2,000 prize, will be presented to Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development (HAND). The organization creates housing for low-income people in the wealthiest county in the state—a steep challenge when census data sends grant funds elsewhere.
HAND has provided decent places to live for vulnerable people by restoring three historic buildings and reviving a blighted area in downtown Noblesville. The Roper Lofts occupy two formerly deteriorated vacant buildings, 304 and 347 South Eighth Street, built c.1870 and c.1898 respectively.
HAND expanded its presence on the block, tackling a late-nineteenth century building across the street that had been vacant 10 years. The awards panel applauded HAND’s restoration standards and its commitment to combining low-income housing, preservation, and community revitalization.
Preservation and community revitalization have driven the winner of the 2017 Williamson Prize for individual leadership for 40 years. As head of Rowland Design, an architecture and interior design firm from which she is now retired, Sallie Rowland directed high-profile restoration projects across the state.
She led the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission beginning in the late 1970s, a turbulent period when local designation of historic districts caused such high emotion that public hearings required security. Rowland relied on fairness and calm rationality to steer the commission’s designation of landmarks and historic districts, including Circle Theatre, Union Station, Chatham-Arch, Fletcher Place, Wholesale District, and the Old Northside.
She recalls the Circle Theatre designation as a challenge. “We had to convince decision-makers that the building could have a positive impact and a new use. Believe it or not, it was threatened,” she says of the jewel-like theater that became the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
“The difference between then and now? How about night and day?,” Rowland laughs. “People wanted to tear down historic buildings in favor of new buildings or even just surface parking lots. Folks who favored preservation were viewed as obstructionists and anti-progress. I tried to be calm and methodical and talk about advantages. Now people see the value in saving and repurposing historic places,” she notes.
“Sallie played a major role in that transformation,” according to Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis, “in part by injecting joy into the process of preserving historic places.” She has remained active as a leader in preservation, steering the successful initiative to create downtown design guidelines when Reid Williamson retired after 30 years as president of Indiana Landmarks in 2005; she served six years on Indiana Landmarks’ board, and co-chaired our successful 2010-15 capital campaign.
Randall Shepard, Indiana Landmarks’ Honorary Chairman and head of our awards panel, credited her gutsiness 40 years ago, and commended her steadfast commitment and leadership in the decades since.
“Her positive, intentional and pragmatic vision for preservation has made an extraordinary difference,” he declares.
Congratulations, and thanks, to all three of our 2017 winners!
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