Pharos-Tribune

Columns

March 13, 2012

A ‘franchise tag’ for housing

Last week, Logansport housing made headlines for different but indirectly related reasons.

The Logansport Historic Preservation Commission effectively “undesignated” some properties that had previously been designated as historic. Removing the tag  from one home along the boulevard made sense because it’s in an area of the city where older homes will likely stand the test of time and urban development. The commission stood firm on other cases in older parts of the city with the exception of one North Street property.

Meanwhile, the city once again called for property owners to take care of their older properties, an appeal that’s been made by administrations of both parties several times over the years.

The Logansport Board of Public Works and Safety, the code enforcement officer and the building commissioner have a never-ending task in ensuring the integrity of buildings, many of which are not owner-occupied. Some of these have fallen between the cracks of ownership and have not been occupied for years.

What’s significant to note here is that last week also was the 25th anniversary of something we sometimes take for granted – the designation of Logansport’s only national historic landmark, the Dentzel carousel in Riverside Park. Since that designation was made, more than $1 million was raised to renovate the carousel and build a new all-weather home in the McHale Community Complex.

But just blocks from the carousel are various aging properties that qualify for the same National Register of Historic Places the carousel has for years. Unfortunately, many of these structures don’t have owners willing to pursue historic protection through a designation by the city.

This designation is similar to the “franchise tag” the National Football League teams are able to place on a certain player as the key player to their franchise they don’t want to lose. Peyton Manning has had that designation before, and it’s somewhat ironic that his departure from the Colts happened last week as well.

Not every old house is historic, and frankly there are plenty of old houses in Logansport that would look better after a wrecking ball visited them.

When previous local officials sought the publication of “The Interim Report on Cass County” published in the early 1980s, they secured professional expertise to determine what properties were really historic, complementary to the historic neighborhoods we have or simply not historic in any sense. If anything, that same report could be used as a guide for the local commission today to work with local property owners in designating many properties that haven’t been identified as historic to Logansport.

In a sense, that’s our franchise tag: Identifying homes that for one reason or another are historically meaningful to Logansport.

Historic preservation is indirectly related to investment in other properties because historic preservation adds value to structures, neighborhoods and ultimately the local tax base. The Bankers Row Neighborhood on Eel River Avenue 30 years ago was a shambles in many respects. Private investment and some cooperation from the city in adding sidewalks and lighting have helped improve that neighborhood for mixed business and residential use, which will probably be augmented by the expansion of the All Saints Parish campus and downtown revitalization.

One property within walking distance of Bankers Row is The People’s Winery. When historic preservation efforts began on Bankers Row in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the building that now houses the winery was closed down as the former site of The Salvation Army. It remained unused for decades until it was restored and the winery opened its doors. The winery, which once housed a bank when it originally opened in the 1800s, is now one of the most attractive properties in downtown Logansport, and it’s also historic.

When the Cass County Historic Preservation Foundation was created as a nonprofit organization, it had a goal of promoting the concept of historic preservation through awareness and community support. One of the problems facing historic preservation, however, is that too few properties are designated and city administrations throughout the years have failed to commit adequate resources to properties that magnify our heritage in a way that shows off the city in a positive light. Logansport is not unique in that respect, but many cities have found ways to pull it off.

Owning an historic home or structure and any other kind of structure is like the difference between owning a pure-bred dog and owning a mixed breed. There are dog owners who want both types of dog, and there are property owners who want both types of properties.

Without the historic designation for more structures in Logansport, dozens of historic structures will simply age and decay like any other building. It’s time for us all to take a closer look at buildings that should be preserved and those that will merely be reserved for the wrecking ball.

One final thought is that sometimes we all look at buildings that could use some tender, loving care and think that time is not on their side. Yet when the carousel was designated a National Historic Landmark 25 years ago this week, two other properties that received the same designation were Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and the historic southern Indiana hotel in West Baden Springs. Time wasn’t on the side of either of those buildings either, but history was.

In a sense, the United States has long been a country that’s succeeded because it was on the right side of history. For Logansport and other cities to succeed in preserving part of that national heritage, we have to designate historic properties and put long-term investment on their side — and ours.

• Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the newspaper at ptnews@pharostribune.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • WILLIAMS: America still the dream Is America really in as bad as shape like many people say it is? I’m 67 and when I look around, I don’t see it.Everything isn’t great but believe it or not, there has never been a time when everything was great, not even in those innocent Fifties we

    July 31, 2014

  • WERNER: The mystery of the Indian grave at Dykeman Last summer I contacted Thelma Conrad, executive director of the Cass County Historical Society, to ask her if she had any information on the Indian grave at Dykeman Park. Thelma had heard of it but had never seen the small marker that tells of the I

    July 31, 2014

  • RAMPBELL: Keeping the sick at home Something strange happened here this week: Lots of workers who’ve never done so before got the right to call in sick. And that’s a good thing.The Big Apple, you see, is joining a handful of other trailblazing cities such as Washington, San Francisco

    July 30, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Patacsil was no ordinary Joe Somebody forgot to tell Joe Patacsil that if he wanted to wrestle at a Big Ten university with black and gold as its school colors ... well, most people who know anything about college wrestling today might have said he picked the wrong one -- Purdue

    July 30, 2014

  • MARCUS: The higher education funding mess Public higher education financing is unsustainable as currently configured. This conclusion was reached by two important groups over the past two years. The National Association of State Budget Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Office

    July 29, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The state of the reunion “Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 29, 2014

  • COATS: What to do next with Putin, Ukraine The tragic death of 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in a wheat field in eastern Ukraine marks a moment when words of disapproval and expressions of grief are not enough. This is a moment when action must follow the outrage and rhetor

    July 28, 2014

  • LYONS: The most powerful men in the world? Search the phrase “the most powerful man in the world” and what comes up are photos of grotesquely over-developed weightlifters; also Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Awfully ironic under present circumstances. It’s a cant term TV news anchors use to

    July 28, 2014

  • CEPEDA: What are students to eat now Remember last year’s hysteria over school lunches? Administrators, cafeteria workers, students and parents across the country freaked out when — gasp! — school lunches were made healthier.News reports throughout the 2012-13 school year — when lunch s

    July 27, 2014

  • HOWEY: Rising up to meet Putin’s thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 27, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should grocery and convenience stores be allowed to sell cold beer?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.