Historic sites have long struggled with accessibility issues, how to accommodate guests with mobility issues in buildings designed before anyone considered the need for alternate access to upper floors. Grants from Indiana Landmarks’ Efroymson Family Endangered Places program are helping two Vevay nonprofits find ways to make their historic venues more accessible.
Located in Vevay’s historic commercial core, the Community Arts Center of Switzerland County occupies a c.1835 three-story commercial brick building with a windowed storefront that shows off the work of local artists. On the ground floor, the Arts Center showcases a variety of creations, from paintings and photos to quilts and handmade accessories. The second floor is wide-open with potential for increased use, but the only current access is by way of a steep, uneven staircase. The Center is using our grant to have Indianapolis-based RATIO Architects investigate alternate methods for patrons to reach the space.
Nearby, the campus of the Switzerland County Historical Society includes Vevay’s 1860 former Presbyterian Church. Today, the building’s ground floor holds the society’s museum, displaying a range of artifacts from the area’s early Swiss inhabitants to local military memorabilia. The towering Greek Revival church’s sanctuary — where the society hosts special events and rents space for weddings – is on the second floor, accessible only via two curved staircases. The society has also engaged RATIO Architects to look at making the second floor accessible without damaging the graceful stairs.
Greater access will allow both organizations to expand programming and rental opportunities, an important source of funding for operations and maintenance at their historic locations.
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