Putnamville landmark facing threat of demolition

Friday, October 4, 2013
Courtesy photo
The Whitehall Inn summer kitchen/servants quarters is facing an uncertain future along U.S. 40 in western Putnam County.

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.

View 2 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • It would be criminal to tear down this old house. The former Schlueter house on old US 40 just East of Putnamville was once an inn and probably as old as this house. It is rumored that Lincoln stayed at the former Schlueter house when was an inn operated by Lincoln's cousin.

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Fri, Oct 4, 2013, at 7:45 PM
  • Why can't DePauw get interested in saving this old house? It would behoove DePauw to get involved in preserving this house.

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Fri, Oct 4, 2013, at 7:48 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: