There's news from Wabash of an effort to protect some of that town's oldest residents.
Wabash, Indiana is a treasure trove of historic buildings...gorgeous 19th Century facades far grander than anything that could be built today.
And right in the middle of them all sits this little gem, the Old Wabash County Jail and sheriffs residence, built the same year, 1879, and in the same style as the county courthouse across the street.
County Commissioner Brian Haupert says, “Right now, it's in a situation where we're just keeping it kind of mothballed.”
County Commissioner Brian Haupert says the jail hasn't been used as a jail since 1974.
The bars have been stripped from the cells...only graffiti remains as testimony to its past life.
But the sheriff's residence is in great shape, ideal for lots of uses.
The problem is not much attention is ever paid old buildings like this, and local governments are seldom able to spend money maintaining them, even when there's interest in doing so.
County Commissioner Brian Haupert says, “It would be nice if it could stay…if the county could find a use for it. I know the county's kicked around some ideas for record storage and that kind of thing, which we're always in need of more storage space.”
It's surprising to discover that a town like Wabash, full of historic architectural treasures, has no laws or regulations on the books protecting historic buildings.
But that may soon change.
A tourism ordinance has been proposed that would create historic districts within city limits.
Building owners in those districts would need approval for major changes to building exteriors.
Catherine Compton, with the Historic Landmarks Foundation says, “We found that in areas that have historic districts, property values are often higher. Properties sell quicker. And it kind of creates more tourist attractions in the area because they know when they go, there will be people who care about the buildings and they'll see some nice architecture.”
Wabash citizens have always shown interest in their historic past.
They spent a lot of money making sure the new judicial wing, just completed, matched the granite memorial hall it was built on to.
So maybe the idea of creating historic districts will fly when city council takes up the issue this summer...perhaps in time to rescue this old city resident from oblivion.
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