Can historic home be saved?

If the c.1850 house stays put, it faces certain demolition. The owners sold the acreage to developers, but not the dwelling. Historic Landmarks is looking for a new owner who’ll move the house so it can be saved.

The developer’s site preparations will begin soon. “It’s in a high state of jeopardy,” says Mark Dollase, Vice President of Preservation Services for Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. “The Ropkey family wants to see the house preserved—it had been in the family three generations—so their sale of the land did not include the historic house. However, demolition is certain unless someone steps in.”

In 1848 John Cotton, a prosperous farmer, bought land in Pike Township and began building a home. He completed his clapboard house two years before the first railroad line crossed the township.

Cotton’s son, Isaac, lived there from 1856 to 1890, teaching school and farming. Isaac Cotton became active in politics as well, serving as Pike Township clerk and tax assessor, and elected to the General Assembly. Isaac sold the house to his son, Henry, and two years later the dwelling passed out of the Cotton family. The Ropkey family purchased the house in 1937 and owned it until the recent sale.

The house offers a potential buyer the craftsmanship and charm missing in many modern homes. The façade displays characteristics of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles. “It’s certainly one of the earliest examples of this style in Marion County,” Dollase says. Sidelights with transoms flank the main door. The staircase, featuring ash treads and a cherry railing, curves left midway between the first and second floors and cantilevers from the wall, creating a light and airy effect.

Historic Landmarks Foundation is searching for a relocation site, and for a new owner who appreciates early Marion County history and wants to save a historic home. “It’s been well-maintained, and it would be a great loss if this property torn down,” Dollase says.

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