FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – When you think of historic sites in Fort Wayne what comes to mind? What if those suddenly disappeared? One local group is making sure that doesn’t happen. In fact, its members are speaking out and bringing attention to some historic sites that they’ve labeled as endangered.
“Fort Wayne has magnificent historic resources and once you lose those they are gone forever,” ARCH Executive Director Michael Galbraith said.
For that very reason, Michael Galbraith’s team at ARCH, has been working tirelessly on its 2014 endangered places list. Topping it this year the GE campus on Broadway.
“When you see a big employer like GE say that they are ceasing operations here in Fort Wayne and you have a multi-acre campus right in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne you worry about what is going to happen to it. We want to be able to work to find a creative solution to making sure those buildings get reused.”
Ideas ARCH has for the GE campus: places for people to live, work, and play.
“You could have great apartments, super shops, you could have the most stellar offices with you know an advertising agency or a web design agency.”
Other endangered sites include the old Fort Wayne Police station on Creighton, streetcar commercial corridor near the Coca-Cola plant on Pontiac Street, and Elmhurst High School.
“A lot of people have a great fondness for that building and wonder what is going to happen to it. The longer a building sits empty the more we worry about it because empty buildings just tend to deteriorate faster.”
2014 Endangered Sites:
1. Brookview-Irvington Park National Register Historic District — This National-Register listed historic district is threatened by a proposed public works project that could potentially demolish houses along State Blvd and alter the character of the neighborhood.
2. Historic Roadside Architecture: Signs and Historic Filling Stations – Brightly lit signs are hallmarks of roadside architecture from the 1930s through the 1970s. Unfortunately, these signs are now threatened by changing uses, vacancy and new development. Similarly, historic filling stations, such as this Texaco-box model are threatened by changing uses and insensitive remodeling.
3. Fort Wayne Bible College: Bethany (1930) and Shultz (1904) and Hausser (1965) Halls—Bethany and Schultz Halls, located on the north side of West Rudisill Blvd, and Hausser Hall, on the north side of Lexington Ave, are threatened by vacancy and uncertainty over future use.
4. S.F. Bowser Administration Building, Creighton St – The former administration for the Bowser Pump Company was most recently used by the Fort Wayne Police Department. After the department vacated the building, it has sat empty. The building is threatened by vacancy, uncertainty over future use and demolition.
5. Fort Wayne Parks—Statues and Tree Canopies – In Memorial Park, a statue dedicated to Olen J. Pond and
Veterans of WWI sits headless and in need of repair. Statues across the city are also in need of repair due
to vandalism and weather damage. The effects of the Emerald Ash Borer have been felt across the city as
street trees have died and been removed. Street trees are known to improve the quality of life in a
neighborhood and lower utility costs. These historic tree canopies also help maintain the historic design
of a neighborhood.
6. Foster Park Pavilion No. 3 –This Park-Rustic structure, located on the west side of the park is threatened
by lack of use and vandalism. New Deal-era resources such as this pavilion represent a threatened legacy
in our public parks.
7. Joseph & Elnora Bash Hughes House, West Wayne Street – Built c. 1877, this Queen Ann Home was
damaged by a fire in 2012. After the fire it was stabilized, but is still threatened by vacancy.
8. Historic Township-Era Schools: Franklin School and Elmhurst High School – The Franklin School, located
on St. Mary’s Avenue is threatened by vacancy and demolition. The Elmhurst High School is threatened
by vacancy and uncertainty over future use. These pre-consolidation era schools are representative of
the 20th century education system in Fort Wayne.
9. C.F. Bleke Farmhouse, 13212 N Lima Rd – A reminder of Allen County’s agricultural beginnings, this c.
1875 farmhouse was built by Charles F. Bleke. The future of the farmhouse is uncertain, but it is currently
in need of repairs.
10. Streetcar Commercial Corridors: Leland Block, South Calhoun St and Coca-Cola Plant, East Pontiac St –
These historic commercial corridors served streetcar riders throughout the city during the early 20th
century. Now, some of these commercial areas suffer from underuse, changing traffic patterns and
vacancy. The Leland Block on South Calhoun St is one example of a commercial block, while the Coca-
Cola Plan on East Pontiac is an example of an industrial operation that relied on the streetcar system to
bring its employees to work.
11. Canal House – The Canal House was one of ARCH’s earliest rehabilitation projects that brought this canal-era resource back into use. Today, the building is vacant and surrounded on Superior Street by a vacant bus depot and a parking lot. With renewed interest in the area, ARCH is concerned about parking pressures and the future of the Canal House. Due to its unique construction, the Canal House cannot be moved.
12. General Electric, Broadway Campus—General Electric announced in 2014 that it would be closing down all operations in Fort Wayne. While this signals an end of an era in Fort Wayne, it ushers in new challenges. The future of the Broadway Campus buildings presents a new challenge for GE and the local community.
ARCH also announced the 2014 winners of their annual ARCHie Awards. The ARCHie Awards recognize local property owners for their preservation efforts. A call for nominations was announced in February 2014. Nominations were reviewed by ARCH and winners are as follows:
ARCHie Award for Single-Family Rehabilitation
1020 W Washington Blvd – Ralph and Annamarie Wiekart
Commendations: 816 Jackson St – Scott and Kimberly Moor
1121 W Jefferson Blvd – The Burnell Group
ARCHie Award for Mixed-Use Rehabilitation
817 S Calhoun St – 817 S Calhoun LLC/Scott and Melissa Glaze
Leonard G. Murphy Award for Commercial Rehabilitation
1122 Broadway – Matthew McCoy
ARCHie Award for Adaptive Reuse
2042 Broadway – Metro Realty Building/Hildebrand Hardware Building – Josefa Schaper and Brian Schaper
Emerging Preservationist Award
Matthew Reibs – ARCH volunteer and high school senior, has organized his classmates for clean-up days at the Broadway buildings, has attended various workshops and is the creator of the “SAVE 226 W WAYNE” Facebook page which has over 3,500 “Likes”
Volunteer of the Year Award
Pat Thomson – Maintains the Rankin House flower beds, multi-year home tour volunteer, and is instrumental in organizing the Southwood Park Home Tour
Historic Beltline Tour-Williams-Woodland Neighborhood
This project used multiple funding sources, including a HUD grant, to create a walking tour based in the streetcar neighborhoods of Williams-Woodland and Hoagland-Masterson. Unobtrusive markers laid in the sidewalk provide historical information