Brownstown seeks tenants for former town building, depot


A “For sale by owner” sign has been placed in front of the building that formerly housed Brownstown’s town hall and police department.

The town still owns the 55-year-old building at 200 W. Walnut St., and the only entity that remains there is the street department. The town hall and police department opened in their new location at 116 E. Cross St. on May 18.

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That building previously housed The Jackson County Banner newspaper office and was renovated to make it safer, secure and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In the fall of 2018, the newspaper office and the Brownstown Chamber of Commerce moved to the former location of the Ewing Depot at 1200 W. Spring St., which the town took ownership of from Darlene Butt at the beginning of that year.

The chamber merged with Brownstown/Ewing Main Street in 2019, but the newspaper office remained in the building.

Just recently, though, Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said he received an email from AIM Media Indiana announcing it is not renewing its lease to house the newspaper office there. AIM Media is the owner and publisher of both The Jackson County Banner and The Tribune.

The lease expires Sept. 30.

“They said they would be out by or before that time,” Willey told the Brownstown Town Council during a recent meeting.

He said he needs to have paperwork corrected because it still shows Butt as the owner of the property. The Jackson County GIS map also shows that.

Councilwoman Sharon Koch said she recently showed someone the building at 200 W. Walnut St., but they let her know they are not interested.

“It’s open to all to buy,” she said.

With the depot building, the council recently discussed different options for tenants. The senior center, Brownstown/Ewing Main Street, the town’s street department and a service that needs a satellite office were mentioned.

“I would like to have something there. It’s a nice building that I don’t want to have vacant, especially after we put all that money in asphalt,” council President Gregg Goshorn said of the parking lot being redone.

The lot includes handicap parking spots, and the building has a handicap ramp.

“At this point, we need to put some feelers out to see if there are any potential tenants that would like to have a historic building for office space,” Goshorn said.

CSX Railroad gave the building to the town, which in turn gave it to Brownstown/Ewing Main Street after that organization was established in 2010-11.

Brownstown/Ewing Main Street ran into a roadblock when it was told the depot was too close to the railroad tracks and had to be moved. The depot was 17 feet from the tracks and needed to be moved at least 40 feet away from railroad right of way for safety purposes.

It was moved 80 feet away in July 2013 at a cost of $13,800, thanks to donations from individuals and businesses. Butt purchased the property for that move.

Butt, who lives in Ewing, later spearheaded a Brownstown/Ewing Main Street project to restore the depot, which was opened by the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern Railroad in 1913. The restoration project involved many financial contributions and the persistence of many in the community, Butt said.

In 2016, as part of the restoration project, a replica of a small structure with windows on all four sides for a signal operator was built. Butt said that came about because the late Herschel Forgey remembered the structure and its inside. A sidewalk also was installed to connect the shed with the depot.

Some of the structure of the freight station is original, Butt said.

There is one main room in the building, and it features wooden flooring and siding. It has a newer bracing system for the roof with one original beam that stretches the length of the ceiling. A long table made of wood from the original floor sits in the middle of the depot.

The roof was in such poor condition, volunteers had to construct a new one because insurance costs would have been much higher, Butt said.

At the beginning of 2018, the town took ownership of the building after Butt signed the deed over. She said she hoped the town would use the structure as a gathering place for local residents that would honor the Ewing community’s history.