photos make history series possible
Efforts under way to get district on National Register
By DENNIS NARTKER
KENDALLVILLE Everyone agrees preserving the downtown business district as a national historic landmark is a good idea.
The application process, though, is lengthy and time-consuming.
Led by city Councilman Shane Mulholland, the Downtown Business Association plans to get the three-block business district on the National Register of Historic Places.
A survey by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana describes Kendallvilles Main Street business district between Rush Street and the railway tracks as a fine representation of late 19th and early 20th century commercial styles.
Buildings occupied by Business Service Co. of America at 107-109 N. Main St. and KeyBank at 111-113 N. Main St. have already been registered as national historic landmarks, according to local historian Russell Frehse, who helped get them registered in the late 1980s.
At first Mulholland was looking at a way to save the City Hall building at the corner of Main and Rush streets. The 2 1/2-story building is not handicapped-accessible, is poorly heated and cooled, has a leaky roof, crumbling stairway and inadequate space for police department operations.
City Council abandoned the 83-year-old building for its meetings four years ago.
Council is considering options to remodel the building or purchase the nearby Northeastern Center building for city offices.
Adrian Fine, field coordinator for the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, told council the downtown district, including City Hall, could be preserved as a historical place.
At first I was just looking for a way to save City Hall, then I realized after talking with Adrian all of downtown could be on it, said Mulholland, whose grandfather, John Mulholland, operated a popular billiard parlor and sold cigars in the 100 block of North Main Street.
The application process involves researching the history of the downtown buildings and their architectural significance.
A Downtown Business Association committee will divide the district into three blocks, with two to three volunteers conducting the research per block.
Cooperation from property and business owners will be needed.
Mulholland will complete the application with Fines help.
Once on the national registry, the district will become eligible for federal and state grants, according to Fine.
Frank D. Hurdis Jr., senior architectural historian for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation & Archaeology Division, toured Kendallvilles downtown business district in March.
Its very intact, really excellent and unusual architecture. I see no problems in getting it on the National Register of Historic Places, he said.
Mayor Larry McGahen supports the preservation campaign.
The slogan on the downtown banners welcomes people to historic Main Street and I support the effort, he said.
Jerry Kessler, Kendallville Area Chamber of Commerce board president, calls the campaign a great idea.
The chamber is definitely in favor of it, he said.
Barb Mulholland, the chambers executive director, also supports the Downtown Business Association preservation campaign.
If we dont start preserving this part of the community, it will be gone forever. Fifty years from now people will be grateful the association did this.