Some people seeing a nearly 125-year-old building at Howard Street and U.S. 31 in Crothersville for the first time might not look past its crumbling façade.

In fact, the town council voted in May to take ownership of the two-story building and tear it down because of concerns it might fall down and spill into the town’s main intersection.

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But the head of the regional office of one statewide preservation organization looks at the building and sees something entirely different.

“For me, this is the heart of Crothersville,” Greg Sekula said of the building that sits on 0.6 acre at 121 E. Howard St.

Sekula, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Southern Region, said the building, constructed in 1891, helps define the historic character of the community. Over the years, the building has housed the town’s Odd Fellow Lodge, library, license branch and a pharmacy.

Jackson County commissioners recently voted 3-0 to give the town the tax sale certificate for the property. That move came after the county tried to sell it April 11 to collect unpaid property taxes on the property. No purchaser came forward.

The building has an assessed valuation of $75,900, and the land has an assessed value of $7,000. The last time the property taxes were paid was in late 2012, and property taxes due on the building this spring totaled $8,238.15.

Former owner Nathan Ray told town council members in April that he knows the building needs repairs, but he does not have the money to make them.

By giving the tax sale certificate to the town council, commissioners have given the town ownership of the property and the 40-by-66-foot building. The town now has the option to make improvements to stabilize it or tear it down.

The council recently agreed, however, to give the 2,030-square-foot building to Indiana Landmarks, council President Ardell Mitchell said.

The town had set aside $40,000 to demolish the building and clean up the site but has now agreed to give that money to Indiana Landmarks to help pay for stabilizing the building, Mitchell said.

He said the council’s feeling was that if there were a possibility of saving one of the town’s oldest remaining buildings, they would help by donating the $40,000 to the project.

“I think the town is going to be much better off ensuring they are be going to be doing the rehabilitation instead of us tearing it down,” he said.

Winter Holman of Crothersville is one of those who sees little potential in saving the building.

“Keeping the building is a joke,” Holman said. “I live on the other side of Howard Street from it, and the thing is ready to fall down. Nothing but a dump. (It) should have been taken care of a long time ago.”

Holman said it’s a waste of town money that could have been used to do something else in town.

“Roads need fixed, parks updated and many other things,” she said.

Cindy Galbraith of Seymour had a different viewpoint.

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Galbraith said. “They were going to spend the money to destroy a historic building, but now it will be used to save it. Sounds like a win for history. I know there are some buildings here in Seymour that I wish had been saved instead of torn down.”

Sekula said Indiana Landmarks’ real estate committee met this past week and agreed to go forward with accepting the building and committing to stabilizing it.

A final decision about how to proceed with the project rests with Indiana Landmarks’ board of directors, which will meet later this month during a two-day retreat, Sekula said. He added he hopes the approvals are all in place and the paperwork is completed by August.

Sekula said stabilization efforts will focus on the masonry work, the roof, windows and the storefront area. The goal is to put the building into good condition so it can be developed.

He said efforts to restore buildings in downtown areas in southern Indiana cities and towns have potential to spark more development. He pointed to efforts in New Albany and Jeffersonville and said the recent opening of Rails Craft Brew and Eatery bodes well for downtown Seymour.

“One business can make a difference,” he said.

The growth just becomes self-sustaining, he added.

Sekula also said the redevelopment of just one building in downtown Crothersville along with the growth of jobs at local manufacturing facilities means the community has a good future.

“It’s only five minutes from the interstate,” he said of Interstate 65. “I’m optimistic.”

Mitchell said he can envision a first-floor banquet/dining facility.

“It’s something we don’t have a lot of,” he said.

He said he also can see a couple of apartments on the second floor.

“And then I’ve wondered about making it some kind of civic space,” Mitchell said. “When we (the council) were talking about renovating it ourselves, we were considering something like the Joe Jackson Hotel in Vallonia. I think all those things are on the table for consideration.”

He said the council is thrilled about the possibility of Indiana Landmarks saving the building and finding a potential developer.

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