Breaking News


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

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • WILLIAMS: Life is not all choices There is a post on Facebook that says, “Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible

    August 21, 2014

  • HAMILTON: Why government openness matters One of the fundamental lessons of the 9/11 tragedy was that our government carried a share of blame for the failure to stop the attacks. Not because it was asleep at the switch or ignorant of the dangers that Al Qaeda posed, but because the agencies

    August 21, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Quality of life and leaders both matter It was with some astonishment and much disappointment I read in the Aug. 5 edition of the Pharos-Tribune that one of our local city councilmen was quoted as saying that previous efforts in Logansport to use Tax Increment Financing money for quality o

    August 20, 2014

  • RAMPELL: Here comes Entrepreneur Barbie WASHINGTON — Lego’s groundbreaking female-scientists set sold out almost immediately after it was released this month. But never fear, fans of feminist toys: A new Barbie doll, now in stock, is also shattering the plastic ceiling.Yes, that swan-necke

    August 20, 2014

  • MARCUS: Hoosier workers not gaining on the nation A few readers of the South Bend newspaper have sent emails complaining that either they do not understand my columns or that I waste their time by not sticking to the facts. That I include some of my conclusions from the data seems to be an irritant.

    August 19, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: Stock market guru will work for food At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion dollars. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has becom

    August 19, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Craft brewers and vintners return to fair Brad Hawkins felt right at home hawking his beer at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last week. When Hawkins opened his Salt Creek Brewery in a converted filling station in tiny Needmore three years ago, some tee-totaling neighbors protested he was putt

    August 18, 2014

  • LYONS: Climate change deniers resort to attacks Recently a friend posted a video on Facebook that he asserted would demolish the Godless theory of evolution. On it, a fellow sitting in a pickup and wearing a backward baseball cap smugly explained that Darwinian evolution contradicts the Second Law

    August 18, 2014

  • KNISELY: Heading back to school It never ceases to amaze me the wildly different views my nieces have of getting ready to go back to school and actually going back to school every year. As school time approaches, they are ecstatic about all the stuff they get to do. One of those th

    August 17, 2014

  • Stu Engle P-T columnist sig ENGLE: Motivation that stays year round Every year I hear from students, “I will do better in school when I get paid for it.”My response, “What you are learning today will determine your future pay.”The mind-set for some teens exists in short-term benefits. They live in the here-and-now. A

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Does Indiana need a statewide water management plan and an administrator to implement it?

     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man

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.