Indiana houses a wide variety of landmarks, likely because almost anything — pools, roads, shipwrecks, you name it — can be granted the distinction.
Laura Renwick, community preservation specialist with Indiana Landmark’s southern regional office in Jeffersonville, described landmark as a “loose term” because there’s no set reason for a structure to be considered a landmark, as long as it’s 50 years old or older.
“It could be (a landmark) because of the memories at the site, a person associated with that site or an event associated with that site,” Renwick said.
Renwick presented a state-wide tour of landmarks that included homes in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore built for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, a Greyhound bus station in Evansville circa 1933 and the Anderson Athletic Pool in Anderson, which was built on top of the dressing rooms; only about 130 pools were built in this style across the county, Renwick said. Closer to home, Monastery of Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Spencer County and West Baden Springs and French Lick hotels in Orange County made Renwick’s list.
Homes, barns and county houses, also known as “poor farms” that predate the welfare system are also on the list. Dubois County’s poor farm was located in Ireland but has been demolished.
Landmarks don’t have to be buildings. Indiana has shipwrecks, barns, bridges and roads that are landmarks. U.S. 40, for example, is considered a landmark because the road that cuts through the middle part of the state via roughly the same path as Interstate 70 (Terre Haute to Indianapolis to Richmond), follows the route of the National Road; the National Road stretched from Cumberland, Md. to Vandalia, Ill. Travelers can detour to original sections of the road in some places, driving on roads built in the first half of the 19th century.
Through the years, progress has rendered Indiana’s historic places obsolete, Renwick said, especially the barns and bridges.
“They’re threatened because of lack or funding, and lot of them don’t accommodate modern farm equipment or semi trucks,” Renwick said, citing the collapse of a historic bridge in Paoli after a semi-truck driver tried to cross the bridge in December despite carrying a load that was too heavy for the structure.
That’s where getting a site on the National Register of Historic Places can help. Owners of properties on the list are eligible for grants or tax breaks that help cover restoration costs. Indiana Landmarks also hosts events and workshops to help historic property owners get ideas about how to update or repurpose the properties. Barn Again, one Indiana Landmarks’ programs, focuses on updating barns to accommodate modern equipment or turning them into housing or retail space.
Renwick pointed out, however, that just because a site isn’t on the register doesn’t mean it isn’t a landmark.
“If it’s important to your community or to you, it could still be a landmark,” Renwick said. “It could still be important to save.”
The Dubois County Visitors Center and Tourism Commission lists a handful of area landmarks.
• Dubois County Courthouse, listed on National Register of Historic Places and designed in 1910
• Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dubois, organized and built from 1858 through 1891
• Fourth Street in Huntingburg, listed on National Register of Historic Places
• League Stadium in Huntingburg, built in 1894 and renovated in 1990s for movie “A League of their Own”
• Huntingburg Old Town Hall, listed on National Register of Historic Places and built in 1887
• Ireland Historical Society, oldest building in Ireland built in 1878 as the Ireland Methodist Church
• Jasper City Mill, rebuilt on site of historic mill along Patoka River
• L.H Sturm Hardware in Jasper, listed on National Register of Historic Places and built in 1886 and still operated as a hardware store by the family
• Lemmons Church near Otwell, listed on National Register of Historic Places and built in 1860
• Monastery of Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, founded in 1867 and home to one of the nation’s largest communities of Benedictine women
• Shiloh Meeting House west of Jasper, built in 1849 and listed on National Register of Historic Places
• St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper, built in 1880 and listed on National Register of Historic Places
• Schaeffer Barn in Jasper, relocated but originally built in 1800s in Ferdinand
• Salem United Methodist Church in Huntingburg, appeared in movie “Hard Rain” and built in 1889
Note: Downtown Jasper is working on getting on the list. If approved, the Astra Theatre would be included as part of the downtown listing.