Crothersville history, arts group changes officers


Breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, soup suppers, bake sales, dinner theaters, holiday events, arts and craft shows and ice cream socials.

Over the past 10 years, the Crothersville Historical and Cultural Arts Association has provided these events and more to give local residents something to do and raise money for the operating expenses and upkeep of Hamacher Hall and the annex.

The purpose of the nonprofit organization is to promote interest and study of Crothersville area history and participation in and enjoyment of the arts.

In March, though, it was announced that meetings and events would cease unless area residents enlist to carry on these activities.

The next month, a meeting was held for all interested individuals. Fortunately, eight people showed up and others expressed interest, so the group is marching forward.

New officers were elected in May: Erica Gorbett, president; Christie Schill, vice president; Lisa Turner, secretary; and Chester Jones, treasurer. They bring experience with the Crothersville Red, White and Blue Festival to the table.

“Erica called me and said that my name came up that they would like for me to become a member, so I came to see what I could do to help them,” Jones said.

“I love historical stuff,” Schill said. “We want more people to get involved and do things, have stuff so people will come and do things.”

In recent years, the main people involved were Linda Seals, Brenda Holzworth, Eunice Lacey and Sandy Law. They decided it was time to get younger people involved, and they would stay on board as advisers.

“We’re all getting on in years,” Seals said.

“That’s why we put the thing out about it might have to close, and then we had some people step in,” Holzworth said. “Basically, Erica stepped in and said she wanted to keep it going.”

Since reorganizing, the group has hosted two breakfast fundraisers. Members continue to meet at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month to discuss future activities and plans.

Schill said they want to offer an event once a month.

“We’ve talked about doing different things, but we’ve got to focus on how we’re going to pay the bills first,” she said.

A big project the group wants to focus on is cleaning up and remodeling the annex so it can be rented out and host events. The association owns Hamacher Hall, which served as a Presbyterian church from 1885 to the 1990s, at 211 E. Howard St. and the annex at 209 E. Howard St.

“All of the new members, that’s probably one of the main things that they are trying to do right now is get that reconstructed to be safe to do stuff in,” Jones said of the annex.

“It has a full kitchen, but it’s not working right now because it’s in bad shape, and we’re wanting to use the kitchen area possibly and clean up the area and put out some tables,” Schill said. “The back patio, there’s a firepit back there, and we could have a movie night or just stuff outside. We’re talking about a block party eventually and stuff like that just to raise some money and get that over there going.”

In Hamacher Hall, the group has discussed sharing Crothersville history there.

“We want to make this part of a museum of the history of Crothersville,” Schill said. “That would be neat to see if we can gather information from Day 1 to now and pictures.”

The group also is seeking members and has set annual dues. They are $15 for adult members, $25 for family and $6 for individual students.

The local arts organization started as the Greater Crothersville Heritage Foundation in the fall of 2001 after purchasing the former church building. The building was renamed Hamacher Hall to pay tribute to the founder of the town, John Hamacher.

Having no one to oversee daily functions and plan and incorporate activities, the foundation placed a full-time director in charge in November 2004.

A new group then set the stage for the future of the newly renovated Hamacher Hall by turning it into a center for cultural and performing arts. The first organizational meeting of the Crothersville Town Players was April 22, 2005.

The dream of the foundation’s projected plan to turn Hamacher Hall into something the community could proudly use continued to be realized by the Crothersville Historical and Cultural Arts Association.

After securing the 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and proving the group worthy of the responsibility of ownership, the foundation transferred ownership of Hamacher Hall to the association.

Along with the historical church, the foundation purchased the two-story brick building at 209 E. Howard St. Upon investigation of the building’s history, it was learned that it began service in Crothersville as a public school. It has the distinction of being one of the town’s first buildings, built around 1873.

Since its construction, the building has undergone very little renovation to the exterior and interior, only enough to add the modern convenience of plumbing.