Putnamville landmark facing threat of demolition
PUTNAMVILLE -- Travelers along U.S. 40 might not immediately notice the diminutive structure standing on the eastern edge of Putnamville, but it's a landmark with an intriguing past and an uncertain future.
Built in 1828 as an outbuilding to the long-gone Whitehall Inn, the small brick building has been identified at different times as both a summer kitchen and servants' quarters.
Whether one or the other or both, the landmark may well be one of the oldest structures along the Historic National Road in western Indiana.
James Townsend, an influential settler who moved to the area from Kentucky in the mid-1820s, built the inn and summer kitchen/ser-vants' quarters.
Opposed to slavery, Townsend brought with him several freed slaves who are believed to have worked in Townsend's Whitehall Inn and lived in the small brick structure still standing at Putnamville.
The building later became a small private residence and remained so until just recently, when its last tenant vacated in anticipation of the structure's demolition.
The current owner's intentions for the property are unclear.
Phil Gick, past president of the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County, said he received a call a couple of weeks ago from the daughter of the man who had been living in the structure.
"This woman's cousin had apparently inherited the property at the death of the cousin's mom," Gick said.
"I understand we cannot save every structure," he added. "And this is a pretty simple structure at that. But it is entirely consistent with the types of structures that were built to service the increasing traffic as the National Road was built through the county."
Nothing that any structure the building might be replaced with would be gone in 20-30 years and leave no history behind, Gick called the structure "a small remnant/vestige of what was once a vibrant, small community."
"It tells a story," Gick noted.
Indiana Landmarks' Western Regional Office is working with the Indiana National Road Association and the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County to raise awareness of the landmark's significance in hopes of identifying a preservation solution.