Broad Ripple raising money to preserve historic buildings

February 22, 2011

A movement to protect historic buildings in Broad Ripple could target as many as 60 properties.

That’s how many structures appear on a list being compiled by the Committee for Historic Broad Ripple, a committee of the Broad Ripple Village Association that is raising money for preservation efforts. Those efforts include nominating some buildings for the National Register of Historic Places. The group is also weighing seeking protection from the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, a move that would add teeth to the preservation effort.

Earlier this month the committee began seeking donations for its Historic Broad Ripple Fund, which will pay for National Register nominations, informational brochures about historic Broad Ripple buildings and plaques to affix to structures that are added to the National Register. The money raised could also be used to leverage historic preservation grants that require matching funds.

The National Register program is administered by the National Park Service. Nominations have already been submitted for Indianapolis Fire Station No. 32, a 1922 building at the northwest corner of Guilford Avenue and Westfield Boulevard, and the Kassebaum Building, an art deco building dating to 1925 at the southeast corner of the same intersection.

The next building to be nominated is likely to be the Broad Ripple Post Office, a 1935 Art Moderne building at 6255 Carrollton Ave., said Christine Carlson, who chairs the Committee for Historic Broad Ripple.

Carlson said the committee was formed by a group of concerned neighbors in 2008 when a residence in the neighborhood was in danger of being demolished. It didn’t become a committee of the Broad Ripple Village Association until the following year.

The house was saved, but the threat spawned what has become a slow but steady effort to protect commercial buildings.

“We’re all volunteers, so everything moves slowly,” said Carlson, who named a handful of buildings the group is most eager to save. Those include:

-Mustard Hall, circa 1920, the former Masonic Lodge at 6235 Guilford that houses a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.

-The Odd Fellows Lodge at the northeast corner of Westfield and Guilford. Built in 1895, it housed Lobraico’s Drug Store for decades and now houses Chelsea’s, a card and gift shop.

-The Historic Monon Depot at 1001 E 64th St. The 1885 building was originally Broad Ripple’s train station. It now houses BRICS, an ice cream shop.

Not all of the buildings on the group’s radar are in the heart of Broad Ripple. For example, the building at the northeast corner of College Avenue and Kessler Boulevard that houses the Fox Art Glass Studio is also on the list of structures the committee wants to see preserved.

Protection for buildings on the National Register is limited. It’s primarily an honorary designation. Private owners of National Register buildings can alter them—even tear them down—if the work is done with private money.

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, on the other hand, has the power to review and approve exterior alterations to buildings within its jurisdiction. Lockerbie Square, the Wholesale District and the Old Northside are among the 16 historic districts where development is governed by IHPC.

IHPC administrator David Baker, who spoke at a January meeting of Carlson’s committee, said Broad Ripple preservation advocates should consider having individual buildings protected by IHPC. Though the city agency is best known for its historic districts, it can designate individual buildings for protection if the property owner consents.



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