FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The annual list of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy has been announced for 2021.
On Monday, Indiana Landmarks released the compilation of the state’s 10 most endangered places, which includes a high school, a hospital, a historic house and more. Places that land on the 10 Most Endangered list often face a combination of problems rather than a single threat—abandonment, neglect, dilapidation, obsolete use, unreasonable above-market asking price, or owners who simply lack money for repairs.
B.G. Pollard Lodge #1242
1107 W. 7th Street, Bloomington
During an era of segregation, when African Americans were not welcome to gather in Bloomington’s downtown restaurants and businesses, the B.G. Pollard Lodge #1242 on West 7th Street acted as the heart of social life for the city’s traditionally Black neighborhood. Members of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World, a leading national Black fraternal organization, constructed a basement for a new lodge building in 1950, planning to add an upper floor later when they could afford it. Known as “The Hole,” the subterranean space served as a popular Black nightclub, social hub, and haven from the 1960s to the ‘80s.
In 1981, the Elks raised over $100,000 to finally build the upper floor and renovate the basement. The place continued to serve as a community anchor until a variety of factors led to the lodge’s demise in the ‘90s. The building is currently owned by a local couple who use it mainly for storage, and preservation advocates fear the site could become a target for new development.
The Pollard Lodge represents an important chapter in Bloomington’s Black history, a rare survivor among the city’s African American landmarks that deserves broader attention, Indiana Landmarks says.
105-115 South 12th Street, New Castle
At the turn of the twentieth century, downtown New Castle was the bustling hub of a prosperous community. The city’s manufacturing industry thrived, fueled by the gas boom of the late-nineteenth century, and handsome buildings lined the streets around courthouse square. Today, large gaps in the historic streetscape show the effects of widespread demolition, and many of the remaining buildings stand empty, including a block-long commercial structure on the courthouse square.
Now known as the Courthouse Annex, the building stretches along the entire 100 block of 12th Street. It remains attractive, but its condition is precarious. The building needs a new roof, and the demolition of its neighbor to the west left a formerly interior wall exposed.
The structure has been vacant for years, used primarily as an overflow storage facility for county records. With no funds to address long-deferred maintenance, county officials have repeatedly discussed demolishing the building and using the space as a parking lot. Local city officials support saving the landmark but face opposition from the county.
The community has already lost more than an entire downtown block within the last decade. Losing the Courthouse Annex would rob New Castle’s courthouse square of its historic character and deal a devastating blow to the City’s goals for development, Indiana Landmarks says.
131 North Washington Street, Marion
In the mid-twentieth century, a family of physicians set out to create a modern medical facility that would bring the finest health care to the citizens of Marion. In the process, they bestowed a unique architectural legacy on the community.
Dr. Merrill Davis and his sons Joseph and Richard, both also physicians, set their sights on building an institution to rival Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, one designed to take advantage of the latest advances in hospital design and medical technology. They pitched the idea to Frank Lloyd Wright, who had recently designed Richard Davis’s house on Marion’s Overlook Road. With little background in hospital design, Wright referred them to his friend and fellow architect Eero Saarinen, who tapped his protégé Chicago architect Harry Weese to develop plans for the new clinic.
Completed in 1952, Weese’s design reflected modern concepts in both style and substance. The new clinic introduced private rooms for patients and spaces for the latest medical technology, including diagnostic X-rays and lab equipment. The Davis Clinic continued to pioneer progressive medical care until it closed in 1988.
Now owned by ResCare—a company that operates dozens of senior care facilities around the country—the property has been vacant for several years. ResCare has no use for the building and has proposed demolition.
With its original design almost completely intact, the building is in good shape in spite of recent neglect. An important example of mid-century modern design with a provenance involving several nationally renowned architects, it’s a landmark that’s too important to lose, Indiana Landmarks says.
1014 South Street, Lafayette
Lafayette’s Falley-O’Gara-Pyke House sits adjacent to the Cathedral of St. Mary in the city’s St. Mary Historic District. The Roman Catholic Diocese has owned the property for several decades, and in 2018 quietly filed for a demolition permit, with plans to build a new rectory on the site. The proposal sparked protest among neighborhood residents and preservation advocates – including parishioners who urged church leaders to save the historic house – but the Diocese continues to decline requests to discuss preservation alternatives.
Although the c. 1884 Falley-O’Gara-Pyke House remains threatened, its jeopardy has sparked a growing push for preservation in the St. Mary Historic District, resulting in local historic designation for 11 properties within the district.
James M. Shields Memorial Gymnasium
400-418 W. 5th Street, Seymour
When Works Progress Administration workers constructed Seymour’s James M. Shields Memorial Gymnasium in 1941, the building embodied growing enthusiasm for Hoosier basketball and the community’s championship dreams for its local team, the Seymour Owls.
The plan worked. With seating for 3,500 fans, the gym hosted 21 sectional titles from 1942-1970. Less celebrated but still locally beloved, today the deteriorating concrete and steel building represents the plight of many shuttered high school gyms across the state.
Seymour’s school system used the Shields Gym and adjoining 1910 high school until 1981, when the city built a newer middle school. Indiana Bible College used the old school and gym for a few more years, but the buildings fell into disrepair after the college relocated to Indianapolis.
Local businessmen purchased the property in 1996 with hopes of attracting interest in its redevelopment. They patched the gymnasium’s leaky roof in an attempt to secure the building, but keeping out vandals remains an ongoing struggle. Broken windows and a graffiti-covered interior mar the gym today, and a fire in 2018 destroyed a portion of the bleachers.
The building occupies a city block in the National Register-listed Walnut Street Historic District, surrounded by open land that could make it a target for residential development. In other areas of the state, historic high school gyms have found new use as community recreational centers, event centers, and restaurants. There is community support for saving the Shields Gym, but the shot clock is counting down.
Kamm and Schellinger Brewery
100 Center Street, Mishawaka
For nearly a century, brewery operations flourished along Mishawaka’s St. Joseph River. Kamm and Schellinger Brewery operated there from 1887 to 1951, at one time producing 30,000 barrels of beer a year in a complex of buildings dating from the mid-1800s to early 1900s. After the brewery closed, developers adapted the site in the late ‘60s as 100 Center, a thriving complex of shops, residences, restaurants and businesses.
Beginning in the late ‘80s, 100 Center began losing tenants to newer malls. The historic boiler house, stables, and several other buildings in the complex have been repurposed, but the main building—a four-story brewery structure dating to 1853—is empty and dilapidated.
The Kamm and Schellinger Brewery site is the last of a once-thriving industrial area along the Mishawaka riverfront and one of the area’s few remaining examples of pre-Civil War architecture. The brewery building’s solid masonry construction and significant local history merit rehabilitation. A patchwork of ownership, shared parking, and a long list of code violations hamper the site’s redevelopment, and there is increasing pressure to demolish the historic building in favor of new riverfront construction.
1221 J Street, Bedford
Built in 1926 of Indiana limestone, Bedford’s Monon Depot, a Craftsman building on J Street, doubled as a passenger depot and a freight station for the Monon Railroad, shipping blocks from local quarries at the heart of the “Limestone Capital of the World.” After the Monon ended passenger service in 1967, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and later CSX took over operations, until the county adapted the building as a recycling center. Today the depot is vacant and dilapidated.
Since the depot’s first appearance on the 10 Most Endangered list in 2020, a conditions assessment funded by Indiana Landmarks found the depot to be in overall good condition save a leaky tile roof, which is allowing water to cause damage to the building’s soffits and overhangs.
Community leaders and trail advocates have expressed interest in adapting the Craftsman depot as a trail head for the growing Milwaukee Road Transportation Trailway, but the pandemic stalled efforts to engage community and developer interest. Indiana Landmarks says they hope keeping the landmark on this year’s list will help reignite the push to find a reuse for the landmark.
Oxford Community Mausoleum
3268 W SR 352, Oxford
In the early twentieth century, cities and towns around Indiana began building community mausoleums, promoting them as sanitary alternatives to in-ground burial. The Oxford Community Mausoleum in Benton County’s Oxford West Cemetery is Indiana’s first and oldest still-standing community mausoleum, and the only example constructed from concrete block.
Built in 1908 in the Romanesque Revival style, it mirrors a patented design by William Hood of the National Mausoleum Company, which promoted construction of community mausoleums nationwide.
The building’s architectural significance helped it gain National Register listing in 2020.
With extremely limited funds, township officials have been unable to address deferred maintenance issues at the mausoleum. Water damage is clearly visible on the exterior masonry, tile roofs, interior plaster ceiling, and marble fronts of the vaults. The structure’s plight reflects similar conditions at other community mausoleums across the state, where public funds to address renovation needs are scarce.
Without the urgently needed repairs, the Oxford Community Mausoleum’s situation becomes more critical with each passing season.
Theodore Roosevelt High School, Gary
730 West 25th Street, Gary
Built in 1930, Theodore Roosevelt was one of the state’s first high schools constructed exclusively for African Americans. At its peak, the impressive Colonial Revival structure housed more than 3,000 students, making it one of the largest African American high schools in the Midwest.
The school became a point of pride for the city’s Black community. Leaders recruited the best African American teachers and administrators and brought in speakers from all over the world to share their expertise. Educators expected students to be civically active and engaged, a mindset that remains evident in the school’s strong alumni group.
In more recent years, shrinking enrollment and chronic underfunding propelled the school into deepening decline. In February 2019, a failing heat system and frigid temperatures caused multiple pipes to burst, sending water cascading into classrooms and offices and forcing students off-site. Facing an estimated $9.6 to $15 million for repairs and cleanup, the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board permanently shuttered the school.
Including the high school on the 10 Most Endangered list last year helped elevate the school’s significance and status, and community support for saving it remains strong. However, without a realistic plan for its reuse, the landmark remains threatened.
Tipton County Jail & Sheriff’s Residence
203 S. West Street, Tipton
At the end of the nineteenth century, many Midwest governments required sheriffs to live next door to the county jail for security purposes. Some took it a step further, combining the jail and residence into one structure.
In Tipton County, officials hired Adolph Scherrer, one of the state’s most celebrated architects, to design an imposing new sheriff’s house and jail. Completed in 1895, the structure married a handsome brick house with a more utilitarian cellblock, connecting the two with a three-story brick and stone tower.
Today, the jail and 1894 Tipton County Courthouse – also designed by Scherrer – are the county’s only two National Register-listed buildings.
Though they eventually dropped the order requiring the sheriff to live on site, officials continued to use the building as the county’s jail and law enforcement offices for the next 125 years. However, after completing a new $16 million jail facility last year, the county vacated the historic building.
Since listing the building on the 10 Most Endangered list last year, Indiana Landmarks helped fund a feasibility study to evaluate its reuse options. Similar historic jails around the state have been creatively adapted as restaurants, offices, museums– even apartments and condos. Local support for saving the building is growing, but any rehab will be expensive– and in a rural county with limited funding, finding the capital will be a challenge.
Places that land on the 10 Most Endangered list often face a combination of problems rather than a single threat—abandonment, neglect, dilapidation, obsolete use, unreasonable above-market asking price, or owners who simply lack money for repairs.
“Indiana Landmarks uses its 10 Most Endangered list in several ways,” says Marsh Davis, president of the nonprofit preservation organization. “Sometimes it serves an educational role. It functions as an advocacy tool. And it can assist in raising funds needed to save a place.”
“Every listing comes with significant challenges. In all cases, when an endangered place lands on our list, we commit to seeking solutions that lead to rescue and revitalization,” Davis adds.