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The Post & Mail
Built in 1856, the Hooper House is ready to go back on the market as a home for a family or perhaps as a business office for an attorney or an agency The two-story brick building at the southwest corner of Chauncey and Jefferson streets is being remodeled under the eye of People Preserving History in partnership with the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. S&S Contracting of Fort Wayne and Columbia City is doing the carpentry and work on the exterior of the building. “There won’t be any square, level or plumb surface in it,” Stan Frantz of S&S said respectfully of the old building. “That’s the beauty of it,” his co-worker, Scott Bolinger, said. Jon Pontzius of PPH said the remodeling is “about finished” and includes masonry work, replacing bricks as needed, tuck pointing, putting new windows in, repairing the roof and porch and a new sidewalk. Other work has included reinforcing the basement foundation. It will be painted a brick color with cream trim, Pontzius said. Gutters will be added later. There will be an open house in mid-September. “We want the community to see the place,” he said. “There’s been a lot of curiosity.” The house will then be put on the market, and Pontzius hopes they can get about $70,000. “That’s pretty close to what we have in it,” he said. “The whole idea was to improve the exterior,” Pontzius said. “Originally the city wanted to demolish it. We have satisfied the demands of the previous owner.” He said there will be certain limitations on whoever buys the old house. “They can’t tear down the back (which was added after the original construction). We want people who have the money and the skills to do reasonably well.” The house has an interesting history. It was built by Adams Y. Hooper, who later started a school for “young women” there. He was a state senator and a prominent lawyer. “He was so loved, so admired, so respected there was considerable public calamity when he died,” Pontzius said. His daughter was about to marry Thomas Marshall, the Whitley County native who went on to become vice president of the United States, but she died the day before the wedding. Pontzius said it hit Marshall so hard he started drinking heavily. Marshall overcame it, but he didn’t marry for another 17 years. Later, in 1916, the Hooper House became a Christian Scientist place of worship, and there still are ancient copies of the Christian Science Monitor lying on the floor of the second story. The Linville family eventually came to own the house, and according to Pontzius they had their hearts in preserving it. They could have sold it a couple of times, he said, but it probably would have been torn down. “They did save it from being demolished,” Pontzius said. “It’s solid, it just needs a lot of work inside,” he said, adding that Master Gardeners will do the landscaping around the house.
The Post and Mail:
People Preserving History, a local historical preservation group, now owns the Hooper House, also known as the Linvill property, at 209 N. Chauncey St., and is preparing to begin to make repairs on the brick house.
The organization presented its plan before the Columbia City Board of Works Friday morning. Vice President Joann Williams said PPH had received a $75,000 grant from the state government’s revolving loan fund to begin the project, which will be completed by whoever buys the property.
There will be a covenant placed on the house by People Preserving History, which will limit the type of any remodeling and repairs and prohibit the house from being torn down.
The house has been in disrepair since at least the 1980s. The exterior is showing cracks and disrepair, and the basement needs a lot of work, according to Williams.
“Whoever buys the house will have to show he has the finances and the ability to repair it,” she told the board. The new owner also must have experience rehabilitating historic buildings and agree to abide by the covenant.
PPH will begin taking bids for work on the house in about two weeks.
“We have a commitment to make sure it is well-cared-for,” councilwoman Grace Lotter said.
Councilman Walt Crowder added, “It’s the start of a new venture.”
There will be a reception at the house from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 15 with Mr. and Mrs. Hooper attending.
The Board of Works, which had taken bids to demolish the building, extended the date of construction completion to May 1, 2008.
In other business Friday morning, the board discussed spending $70,000 to replace two sewage force main lift stations, one at county Road 700E and the other at county Road 600E, with the understanding that the county or the industries served would reimburse the city when the work is completed.
The project is to convey additional flow and provide capacity for growth within the eastern portion of the county’s tax increment financing district.
“From Day One we have indicated we have no money to bring this project to fruition,” Mayor Jim Fleck said. “We would be reimbursed once the project is over. Because of the (sewage) plant and the interceptor sewer project, we had no money. We were assured” the city would not pay for it, with the county or the industries served picking up the cost.
The Post and Mail
The brick house at 209 N. Chauncey St. is the target of preservationists who want to purchase the property, make needed exterior repairs and then sell it to a buyer with the restrictions that it can’t be torn down and interior repairs must be completed.
The house, which has been painted white, currently is owned by Steve Linville, who has missed the target date for repairs set by the Columbia City Board of Works.
Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana is working with the local organization People Preserving History to save the house from demolition. The Board of Works opened bids for demolition Oct. 26 and took them under advisement, delaying a decision while the two agencies try to work something out.
“We’re working with People Preserving History and assisting their efforts,” Todd Zeiger, director of Historic Landmarks, said. “They’re applying to us for dollars for windows, painting, soffits, etc. There’s a fairly long list.”
Historic Landmarks is a private, not-for-profit organization that funds projects similar to the one that seeks to save the Linville house.
“We’re working on it right now,” Zeiger said. “We’re getting some bids from contractors. There’s not anything (wrong) that is unmanageable, but there are some issues that need to be addressed.
“Once we get a contractor and the city is satisfied, we’ll put in on the market and the (new) owner can complete the rest of the project.”
There would be a covenant on the property, which would require approval for any renovations and a ban on demolishing the building.
The new owner would have to show the financial capacity to finish the job.
The Post and Mail
The Columbia City Board of Works listened to a proposal from the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana in an effort to save the Linville property on North Chauncey Street Friday morning at its meeting. The city accepted bids Friday for the demolition of the property and took them under advisement after failing to reach an agreement with the owner to renovate the building. The lowest bid was $3,650. “We work with People Preserving History,” Todd Zeiger, director of Historic Landmarks, said. He said his organization would meet Nov. 14 to get funds to do some of the repair work on the property. “I’m confident we could get the funds in a timely manner,” he said. “Our intention is to move forward expeditiously. The money would come from state revolving funds. I wouldn’t be asking you (for the delay in demolishing the house) if I weren’t confident we could get the money. “We would know by the end of November. Our intent is to find a buyer to finish the work. Then we would write a covenant with a no-demolition clause and a timeline (for repair work). The buyer would have to show the financial capacity and a willingness to do the work.” The board took the request under advisement.....
The Post and Mail
While the Whitley County Historical Society and People Preserving History are both organizations with a concern for protecting and promoting local history, their focuses are quite different.
The WCHS is concerned with preserving the historic books, documents, photographs and artifacts from our county’s history.
PPH’s goal is the preservation and protection of buildings.
“Our jobs are very different,” said Joann Williams, a member of the PPH of the differences between the two organizations.
“We preserve structures, designate neighborhoods and encourage historic preservation in our community,” Williams said.
The two organizations’ focuses converged recently, however, with the WCHS’s extensive restoration of the Thomas Riley Marshall home on Jefferson Street, home of the Whitley County Historical Museum.
For 31 years, Marshall lived in the home he first purchased in 1877. He continued to live there until he was elected Governor of Indiana in 1908. Marshall later served as vice president under Woodrow Wilson.
The home has changed hands several times since then until it became the Whitley County Historical Museum in 1963.
Although the building has seen several major renovations over the years, nearly 20 years passed without significant work.
When Jones became an active volunteer and board member, he realized the building was in serious need of repair and began seeking grants and funding for the needed projects.
Over the course of a two-year period, the home was completely repainted, windows were repaired, a basement wall was rebuilt, new gutter work was installed, the chimney was repaired, the parquet flooring was refinished, the porch’s pillars and several rotten areas were repaired and areas of the slate roof were repaired.
In all, the massive restoration project was completed in late 2006 at a total cost of $35,310.71. The museum staff, volunteers and board celebrated the completion with an open house in December.
In recognition for this extensive effort in restoring one of our county’s greatest architectural treasures, the PPH presented the historical society with their 2007 Landmark Laurels Award.
WCHS board president Chuck Jones accepted the award Thursday night at the WCHS annual meeting on behalf of the entire organization.
The PPH presents the award annually to a business, group or individual who has done an exceptional job in preserving a building or structure.
Past honorees have included Estlick Girvin & Lefever for their building on the corner of Van Buren and Chauncey streets and Hinen Printing for their building on Market Street.
The award is given for considerable efforts in the areas of maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of structures. In order to be considered for an award, a building must be at least 75 years old. Restoration work must have been completed within the past 10 years.
Buildings may be either private residences, governmental buildings, businesses or places of worship.
In order to be considered for an award, the project must be nominated and a nomination form must be completed.
Williams presented the award Thursday evening, saying, “The Whitley County Historical Society is hereby acclaimed for its painstaking and loving rehabilitation of the 1874 Italianate home of Thomas Riley Marshall, Governor of Indiana and Vice President of the United States, and for its vital role in maintaining and showcasing community historical records.”
For more information on PPH, visit their website at history.whitleycountyin.org
August 9, 2008 - DrG