Seed money for preservation efforts planted in HPS coffers
With $6,250 in seed money from Indiana Landmarks in hand, Putnam County preservationists hope to watch it grow for years to come.
A check for that amount was presented Thursday to members of the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County at the First National Bank office on Indianapolis Road.
Heritage Preservation Society has pledged to raise matching funds, which would also be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Putnam County Community Foundation.
"So people who donate will be getting a two-for-one match for their money," Foundation Executive Director Elaine Peck said.
Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks vice president for preservation, personally delivered the check, which was presented to former HPS President Phil Gick as the culmination of about a 10-month effort.
The Indiana Landmarks representative said Greencastle's ongoing Stellar Communities effort helped make the organization's investment in the local community an easy choice.
"Another thing that attracted us," he said, "is how it fits in with the Stellar Community project, reinvesting in the infrastructure and utilizing the historic downtown as a resource."
"I think this could be a model as to how preservation is done at the local level," Dollase praised in presenting the Endangered Places Fund Grant to the local preservation group.
Such funds typically go toward projects on Indiana Landmarks' endangered list, Dollase noted, buildings that are about to be torn down or are crumbling before Hoosiers' eyes due to lack of maintenance and proper attention.
That all bricks-and-mortar approach isn't necessarily the idea behind the local fund.
Dollase said he sees the initial $6,250 helping seed future preservation grants in Putnam County.
"We hope going forward into the future," Dollase said, "that residents of Putnam County will consider a gift to this fund to help it grow."
That is the desire of Gick and the HPS as well.
"In a way," Gick suggested, "it will be like Putnam County's own endangered situations fund. Of course, it is going to have to grow to some size before that's possible."
HPS already has an operating endowment through the Foundation but the new fund will be a completely separate preservation account to be used should a situation require a survey or an assessment or even planning funds.
"The important thing," Dollase stressed, "is that now there will be a source of some funding."
Gick agreed. "Bringing a little money to the game is always a valuable asset," he said.
The Heritage Preservation Society has set an ambitious five-year fundraising goal of $300,000, Gick said.
"If we can get to $300,000," he pointed out, "that will generate $15,000 a year, which will be a significant chunk of money to use."
That level of funding, he suggested, should also help influence those undertaking a local project to "do it the right way."
One of those projects could very well be the restoration of the Civil War solider monument at Forest Hill Cemetery.
An initial appraisal of the monument indicates HPS "can stop the damage" for $12,500, Gick said.
That's $2,500 to assess the monument for damage and another $5,000-$10,000 to stabilize it and prevent further decay.
"For an additional $50,000 we can get it back to its original glory," Gick added.