by Dan Rafter
It’s easy to take for granted those iconic buildings that give so much flavor to a community. Then you look up and those buildings are suddenly in danger of falling to the ground because of neglect.
Indiana Landmarks doesn’t take important buildings or sites for granted. That’s why each year it releases a list of Hoosier landmarks that are either being neglected by their owners or face the wrecking ball. Indiana Landmarks says that several factors lead buildings to its list of endangered places: neglectful owners, abandonment, dilapidation, sales prices that are too high for a market, encroaching sprawl or owners who lack the money needed to repair a property.
Indiana Landmarks first published its 10 Most Endangered List in 1991. Since that time, 104 historic places in jeopardy have appeared on it, with only 13 eventually lost to demolition. The 2015 list includes seven new buildings and three landmarks that are making repeat appearances.
On the list this year are:
. I.O.O.F-United Brethren Block, Huntington
. Former First Presbyterian Church and Lafayette Building, South Bend
. Camp Chesterfield, Chesterfield
. McCurdy Hotel, Evansville
. Rivoli Theater, Indianapolis
. Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis
. Elks Building, Bedford
. Mills House, Greenwood
. McDonald House, Attica
. Indiana County Homes
The final fate of these buildings is uncertain. But Indiana Landmarks is making efforts to save each one of them.
“These landmarks preserve connections to community heritage,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “Time and again, we find that restoring one important place spurs broader revitalization in a community.”
The McCurdy Hotel in Evansville, Indiana, is a good example of a historic building in danger. The eight-story hotel was built in 1917. The hotel operated until shutting down in 1969. From 1970 until 2010, the hotel served as a retirement and nursing home under different owners. Since 2010, though, the building has sat empty.
Different owner-investor groups have announced plans to convert the landmark to apartments. The first, a conversion to housing proposed by City Centre Properties, won $800,000 in city funds for a renovation that never happened. The Kunkel Group bought the McCurdy in 2012, planning to create 113 apartments, but redevelopment has not started. Since then, the city’s building commission has extended deadlines to cure code enforcement issues.
But the landmark building is in sad shape. Indiana Landmarks says its interior is marred by peeling paint and broken glass, while its exterior is dotted by falling brick.