Focusing on Downtown
J.U. Keiser, a Swiss immigrant and professional jeweler who sold watches, clocks, jewelry and musical instruments, constructed 1321-1323 Broad Street in 1872, a time of economic prosperity in New Castle, when the arrival of the Muncie Railroad and Big Four Railroad brought people and business to the area. The gas boom of the late-nineteenth century attracted even more industry, including the Hoosier Cabinet Company, Krell-French Piano Company, Pan American Bridge Company, New Castle Casket Company, and the Maxell-Briscoe plant. New Castle’s downtown grew to accommodate the expanding population, and business flourished along Broad Street, the city’s main thoroughfare.
By the early twentieth century, however, the gas wells had dried up and factories began to close. Like many other industrial cities, New Castle felt the impact of economic downturn. People moved away, and downtown businesses languished. Vacant for nearly a decade, the Keiser Building suffered slow demolition by neglect.
PHC came to the rescue, with plans to partially restore the Keiser Building before selling it to new owners who will complete the rehab. In spite of changes to the storefronts, the building retain a lot of original architectural character. PHC will restore the facade to accent its historic features. In addition, the group will make structural repairs in the basement, stabilize the exterior, and replace the roof.
Indiana Landmarks’ is supporting the project with a $60,000 loan from our Efroymson Family Endangered Places Fund, and our protective covenant will ensure the buildings’ historic character is maintained in perpetuity. New Castle’s Redevelopment Commission awarded $100,000 for the rehab. Once work is finished, the city will evaluate potential buyers to make sure their proposals support the city’s goals for downtown development.
To learn more about the Keiser Buildings and downtown New Castle, contact Indiana Landmarks’ Eastern Regional Office, 765-478-3172, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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