Up in Smoke
In the early morning hours of December 22, people living above a bicycle shop in Warren woke to the smell of smoke. They escaped unharmed, but within an hour, fire had consumed a century-old building, displacing three families and two businesses. It’s a discouraging blow in a small town that’s been working hard on downtown revitalization.
Bucolic farmland surrounds Warren, population 1,200, in southern Huntington County. In recent years, Historic Warren, a local nonprofit, has been focused on reviving the town’s three-block commercial district
Indiana Landmarks assisted the group in introducing a façade grant program in 2016, encouraging merchants to spruce up their storefronts. It didn’t take long before colorful canvas awnings, new paint, windows and masonry repairs began to transform previously tired-looking storefronts, including a bakeshop, drugstore, appliance store, pizza parlor, and opera house. The momentum continued inside, where owners renovated upper floors into market-rate housing, attracting residents to area.
On the morning of the fire, Becky Souder, Secretary/Treasurer of Historic Warren, tried to strike an optimistic note after the disheartening loss, “We have seen a number of significant losses in our community over the years. The people of Warren and our devotion to our small town will eventually allow us to overcome this. Let’s see what the New Year will bring.”
Indiana Landmarks’ staff was on the scene before the embers cooled. Once the rubble is cleared, the town will decide what happens next, and we’ll be ready to help.
For more information about Warren, contact Paul Hayden, Director of Indiana Landmarks’ Northeast Field Office in Wabash, 260-563-7094, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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