INDIANAPOLIS — History isn’t just in the stories we tell or the memories we hold. It sits on the street corners. It looms over city blocks. It’s built of brick and mortar, of limestone and concrete. But just as memories fade, these relics of the past crumble and are doomed to be forgotten if no one acts.
Indiana Landmarks is sounding the alarm. Year in and year out, this organization is dedicated to restoring and repurposing historic places and saving them from demolition.
“These places shape lives, and when they’re gone they leave a void that can’t be filled,” Indiana Landmarks said.
Every year, Indiana Landmarks announces the 10 Hoosier landmarks that are most in jeopardy of being lost to the slow march of time. Places deemed to be on the brink of extinction and labled too important to lose.
Neglected, deteriorating, crumbling, abandoned: Indiana Landmarks uses its yearly top 10 list as a call to arms in the preservation of these relics of yesteryear.
“Each endangered place tells a distinct story, and each faces its own set of challenges,” said Marsh Davis, president of the nonprofit preservation organization. “In all cases, when an endangered place lands on our list, we commit to seeking solutions that lead to rescue and revitalization.”
Since the “Most Endangered Sites” list was introducted in 1991, demolition has claimed just 20 of the 153 featured landmarks. Subsequently, 101 landmarks have been completely restored or labeled no longer endangered.
Here are Indiana Landmarks 10 most endangered landmarks for 2023:
The Birdsell Mansion — 511 W. Colfax Avenue, South Bend
When it was built in 1898, J.B. Birdsell’s mansion rivaled Clem Studebaker’s Tippecanoe Place and J.D. Oliver’s Copshaholm in opulence and prestige. Today, however, the Birdsell mansion’s ongoing neglect is cause for alarm. It’s been vacant for more than a decade, held by an absentee owner with a growing list of code enforcements.Indiana Landmarks
First Friends Church — 1501 S. Adams Street, Marion
For nearly 20 years, trailblazing African American architect Samuel Plato lived and worked in Marion, designing houses, schools, stores, an apartment complex, and churches. Today, only a few of his designs remain in the city, and another one—First Friends Church on Adams Street—is in serious jeopardy.Indiana Landmarks
Hulman Building and Garage — 109-111 Northwest 3rd Street, Evansville
Since its construction in 1929, a 10-story commercial building on Fourth Street has dominated Evansville’s downtown skyline. Commonly known as the Hulman Building after the company that acquired the site in the 1930s, the building exemplifies the Art Deco style as applied to a city skyscraper.Indiana Landmarks
Stinesville Commercial Buildings — 8211 W. Main Street, Stinesville
Constructed between 1884 and 1894, the two-story I.O.O.F. Lodge and four limestone-faced commercial buildings on Main Street are all that remain of Stinesville’s once-bustling downtown.
With their handsome limestone facades and large storefront windows, the four commercial buildings don’t look bad from the front, but behind the facades, their serious deterioration becomes obvious.Indiana Landmarks
State Theatre — 1303 Meridian Street, Anderson
Opened in 1930 at the corner of 13th and Meridian Streets, the State Theatre featured an eclectic Spanish Baroque façade, with white and emerald-green glazed terra cotta. With seating for over 1,500 movie-goers, the interior incorporated state-of-the-art systems, including modern sound and projection technologies and an early form of geothermal heating and coolingIndiana Landmarks
Thomas and Louisa Little House — 5328 E. U.S. Highway 40, Plainfield
Built between 1885 and 1891, the large Queen Anne-style home sits on land first settled by pioneer and state legislator Alexander Little in 1830…. Today, the Little House survives as one of the county’s most significant examples of Queen Anne architecture, incorporating a corner turret, wrap-around porch, fishscale shingles, and wooden windows with diamond-patterned glass. Inside, most of the home’s original floor plan and decorative features remain, including original woodwork, built-ins, pocket doors, and fireplaces with tile surrounds.Indiana Landmarks
Knox County Poor Asylum — 2830 Arc Avenue, Vincennes
In the nineteenth century, Indiana’s plan for caring for the poor and disabled centered on the development of poor farms, where people in need could work in exchange for housing and food. All 92 counties created poor farms between 1831 and 1860, but as federal agencies supplanted them, county homes gradually lost their purpose, leaving county governments and private owners struggling to find new uses for the historic complexes…
After nearly 20 years of vacancy, Knox County’s historic poor farm is in desperate shape. Without repairs, the 1882 building faces demolition by neglect.Indiana Landmarks
Starr Historic District — A Street/E Street/10th Street/16th Street, Richmond
Beginning in the 1860s, Richmond’s well-to-do flocked to an elite residential neighborhood north of the city’s downtown, where they built large homes reflecting their elevated status. Named for early residents Charles and Elizabeth Starr, the neighborhood’s architecture captures the range of house styles popular during the later nineteenth century, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, and Queen Anne….
Once considered one of the Midwest’s best-preserved Victorian-era neighborhoods. Today, it’s better known for its ongoing decline.Indiana Landmarks
International Harvester Engineering Building — 2911 Meyer Road, Fort Wayne
In Fort Wayne, few companies loom as large in local memory as International Harvester. From 1923 until 1983, the company manufactured more than 1.5 million heavy-duty trucks and over 500 thousand Scouts (an early sports utility vehicle) from a complex on the city’s east side. Its prolific output earned its Truck Plant 1 the nickname “The Heavy-Duty Truck Capitol of the World.”Indiana Landmarks
Historic Fraternal Lodges — various statewide
Today, participation in fraternal organizations is on a steep decline. As numbers dwindle and members age, more lodges have been forced to disband, leaving hundreds of significant buildings at risk.Indiana Landmarks
To find out more about each of the 10 most endangered Indiana landmarks, visit www.indianalandmarks.org or contact Indiana Landmarks at (317) 639-4534.