Tiny Town Banks on Historic Rehabilitation

Lagro, population 415, is betting on rehab of three landmark buildings to spark downtown revitalization.

Lagro, Wabash County
Three buildings in Lagro are slated to be rehabbed for commercial and residential use. (Photo: Christopher Walter)

The Power of Small

As the tiny house movement gains momentum, we wonder: can the tiny town trend be far behind? A group of people in Lagro (Wabash County) thinks their town is poised to capitalize on the current.

Platted in 1834 between the larger cities of Huntington and Wabash, Lagro prospered as a transportation hub on the Wabash and Erie Canal. The town’s population peaked at 750 in the 1960s, shrinking to nearly half that number today. The Lagro Canal Foundation believes three downtown buildings hold the key to the town’s revitalization.

Standing shoulder to shoulder, the 1913 Citizens Bank, 1853 Masonic Lodge, and 1840 Improved Order of the Red Man Lodge reflect the community’s prosperous early days. The Canal Foundation recently acquired the three buildings and plans to rehabilitate them for commercial and residential use. “I have seen this kind of historic rehabilitation occurring in other nearby communities and thought why couldn’t something like that happen here,” says Beth Gillespie, the foundation’s president.

Indiana Landmarks conducted building inspections and offered advice on listing the properties in the National Register of Historic Places. The project is a likely candidate for our Partners in Preservation program, which makes grants to help pay for National Register nominations. National Register status would, in turn, qualify the project for grants and historic preservation tax credits.

The Community Foundation of Wabash County is lending fundraising expertise, and enthusiastic support from the community led to donations of money and volunteer labor to several dumpsters of clear debris from inside the buildings.

Capitalizing on its location near the Salamonie Lake and State Forest Preserve, a popular tourist destination just south of Lagro, the town has already constructed a new public pavilion, bike trail, boat ramp, and public restrooms.

For more information on the Lagro Canal Foundation and its work, contact Beth Gillespie at 260-571-0307,

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