ALBION, Ind. (WANE) – It’s been vacant for nearly 20 years, but a historic preservation group is hoping to find a way to breathe new life into the old Opera House downtown..
The Courthouse Square Preservation Society and its sub-committee, the Small Town of Albion Revitalization (STAR) Team, have begun discussions about looking for ways to purchase the building, renovate it, and find a new owner who would put business downtown.
“If it goes to the right person, I think it can revitalize the downtown and re-spur new interest in it and in the history,” Michael Kramer, the president of the society, said.
According to Kramer, the building has been on the market for several months. He and others at a meeting Saturday said the building has two owners, and that it wasn’t until recently that both were ready to sell their portions of the building.
A realtor said the building is listed at $55,000.
Phyllis Herendeen said she remembered how the building used to be. “It’s a very important part of our little town,” she said. “There were graduations held there, a lot of community gatherings, [basketball] games.”
The courthouse society may get help in funding the purchase through Indiana Landmarks, a non-for-profit organization that gives grants and loans to help preserve historic buildings in the state.
“The whole downtown [Albion] was listed the National Register of Historic Places,” Todd Zeiger the director of Indiana Landmarks’ northern regional office. “So this is the next logical step, to take a building that’s vacant and put a new purpose in it.”
Despite the recognition downtown, the future of the old building is still up in the air. “It could be turned into a parking lot,” Zeiger said.
Steve Hooks, the president of STAR Team said the town has already lost a lot of historic buildings. “Albion doesn’t have a lot of significant historic buildings left on its courthouse square,” he said. “There’s the courthouse and the old historic jail, and [the Opera House] is kind of seen as the third historic downtown structure.”
Kramer said Indiana Landmarks would help his organization with the finances to purchase the building with a three-year loan. The Courthouse Square Preservation Society would use fundraisers and donations to pay off what is owed.
The society is expected to vote by Wednesday, February 5, on whether or not it will use Indiana Landmarks to buy the building.
According to people at Saturday’s meeting, the building has also served as apartments, an attorney’s office