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Final Rehab Begins at Wabash Sheriff’s House and Jail

A father’s challenge to his son set the stage for final restoration of Wabash’s historic Sheriff’s House and Jail.

Wabash Sheriffs House and Jail
(Photo: Lee Lewellen)

Challenge Accepted

With years of experience renovating residential properties, Joshua Baxter of Carmel is no stranger to home improvement projects, though he’d always avoided working on older homes, considering them too problematic. All that changed when he charged his son, Josh Jr., to find a historic property they could work on together, hoping to help him build his rehab skills. A quick internet search led them to Indiana Landmarks’ website and our listing for the c.1880 Wabash Sheriff’s House and Jail.

A former entry on our 10 Most Endangered list, the long-vacant house and jail were marked for demolition before Indiana Landmarks took ownership of the property in 2017.

We restored the building’s exterior — including a new roof, paint, gutters, and storm windows, along with repaired masonry and a new front porch — and began searching for a buyer who would complete the project.

In spite of his misgivings about historic properties, Joshua’s hesitations disappeared when he toured the Sheriff’s House and Jail. Even in its unrestored state, the landmark’s solid construction and fine historic details captured his imagination.

He closed on the property in March and began working with preservation architects SRKM Architecture of Warsaw to draw up plans to renovate the house as professional offices and transform the former cell block into loft apartments. The father-son team intends to incorporate historic elements including the original staircase, fireplaces, and even some of the cell bars as part of the unique décor. They expect to be ready for tenants by spring 2022.

Wabash Sheriffs House Interior

Joshua remains philosophical about taking on a historic house and jail as a one-of-a-kind real estate venture. “My past projects have been successful enough that I could restore this building without financial gain as my first concern,” he says. “Instead, the focus for me is to restore this landmark in the way it deserves. I am honored to be given the opportunity to take this worthwhile project to completion.”

To learn more about the project and other historic properties for sale in Wabash, contact Paul Hayden, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Northeast Field Office at phayden@indianalandmarks.org or 260-563-7094.

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