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Preserving Indiana’s Historic Landmarks

The Rivoli Theater, on this year's list of top 10 Most Endangered historic landmarks, opened in Indianapolis in 1927.

Each May, Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving historic properties throughout the state, publishes a list of the state’s 10 most endangered historic landmarks.

“We think each of them has the potential to be restored and be productive and in fact cause a kind of ripple effect of preservation and revitalization around it,” Tina Connor, executive vice president of Indiana Landmarks, says.

Of the 106 buildings that have appeared on the endangered list, Indiana Landmarks has lost 13. In the past, they have worked with Bloomington Restorations, Inc. to preserve historic Bloomington properties, including Maple Grove Road. BRI is dedicated to historic preservation in Monroe County.

Steve Wyatt, executive director of BRI, says he’s proud of the work they’ve done in neighborhoods to save houses that otherwise would have been demolished or changed in ways that would diminish their antiquity.

“We’re kind of like the animal shelter for old buildings,” says Wyatt. “We try to find the strays and get people who will care for them and love them and get them fixed back up and make them happy homes or buildings again.”

BRI works closely with Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development. Nancy Hiestand, project manager for Housing and Neighborhood Development, says communities don’t need to choose between economic development and preserving historic properties because preservation boosts local economies.

“We’ve discovered that large, new construction projects usually bring in contractors from out of town, Hiestand says. “Whereas if you’re repairing or restoring properties, we’re usually using local labor.”

Deylen Realty in Indianapolis develops both historic properties and new construction, mostly in historic areas. Trinity Hart, development manager for Deylen, says one of their crowning achievements was restoring the Murphy Arts Center in the Fountain Square District in Indianapolis into retail, restaurant, studio and office spaces.

“That was a real turning point for Fountain Square and showcasing what that neighborhood was and is today,” Hart says.

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