Too Late to Learn?
Over the objections of Kendallville residents and community leaders, the East Noble Community School Corporation board recently voted to demolish the historic Kendallville High School – one of the city’s largest and most recognizable landmarks.
Constructed in 1915, the historic school complex has deep roots in the community, alma mater to generations of Kendallville residents. With additions over time, the school grew to occupy more than 100,000 square feet in the heart of a leafy neighborhood just three blocks from the city’s National Register-listed downtown. Most recently used as East Noble Middle School, the complex remained in service until last August, when students were moved to a new multi-million-dollar facility on the edge of town.
The vote for demolition came as a surprise to a coalition of local partners – including Kendallville Mayor SuzAnne Handshoe, the Kendallville Chamber of Commerce, the Dekko Foundation, and others — who have been working for nearly a year on a plan in response to the school board’s previous call for proposals to reuse the building. The coalition’s plan called for working with Indianapolis-based nonprofit Partnership for Affordable Housing to repurpose the complex as a multi-generational learning center and housing for seniors.
In a September editorial, local media outlet KPC News opposed the vote for demolition: “We look forward to finding out from school board members how tearing down the building and leaving an empty lot in the middle of the city will ‘be something that contributes to this community.’”
School officials estimate the cost of demolition at $750,000, an amount preservation advocates argue could go a long way toward repurposing the building, or at least toward securing the vacant structure while the board considers alternate plans.
With demolition bids due in early January, time is short. To voice your support for preserving and repurposing the historic school, contact East Noble Board of Education President David Desper, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Superintendent Ann Linson, email@example.com.
To learn more, contact Todd Zeiger, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Northern Regional Office, 574-232-4534, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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