Town receives grant to preserve historic building

EDINBURGH — Thanks to a $400,000 grant, a 150-year-old building in Edinburgh’s historic commercial district will be preserved for future generations.

The two-story brick building near the corner of East Main Cross and West Walnut streets will mainly be used as a community center, with programming focused mostly on youth and retirees, Edinburgh Building Commissioner Wade Watson said.

Funding for the renovation of the Blue River building comes through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which administers the federal monies.

The Public Facilities Program grant was awarded to add historical and cultural value to Edinburgh, 47th District State Rep. John Price, R-Greenwood, said.

“The establishment and continued maintenance of public facilities and historic buildings is vital to the identity of an area, but also to the preservation of the culture of the entire state,” Office of Community and Rural Affairs Executive Director Bill Konyha said.

One of the major goals of the Public Facilities Program is to generate jobs and spur economic revitalization.

Some potential uses for the Blue River building mentioned in recent years by Edinburgh town leaders include a business incubator and a food pantry.

In its grant application, the town stated it intends to use the building for both an information and community center, Watson said.

The grant money will be used exclusively for exterior and structural work, Watson said. Funds from other sources will be secured for first-floor interior work, while second-floor renovations will be put on hold until more money comes in, he said.

A completion date has not been scheduled, Watson said.

The building was constructed shortly after the end of the Civil War, according to historic records, 43 years after Edinburgh was founded.

The structure was already 46 years old when Blue River Federal Savings Bank acquired it on Jan. 1, 1911. For more than 90 years, it was the financial institution’s only location.

Blue River Federal Savings issued its last transaction in November 2002 before being acquired by Salin Bank and Trust.

Seven years later, in 2009, the building was donated to the town. Before it was gutted, the structure hosted the town’s annual Haunted House in October, as well as Santa’s Edinburgh headquarters during the holiday season.

Edinburgh is one of only 14 Hoosier communities to receive this type of grant this year, the release stated.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.