Historical Society scraps plans for larger facility at Fifth and Washington

Plans to relocate the Bartholomew County Historical Society to a larger facility near Fifth and Washington streets have been permanently scrapped.

The former Brad’s Furniture Gallery at 538 Washington St., purchased by the historical society in late 2014, has been sold to a privately held local company, said Jason Hatton, president of the nonprofit’s board of directors.

The building was sold to Big Skies LLC on Jan. 26 for $500,000, according to real estate records. That’s $50,000 more than what the historical society paid for the three-floor building in December 2014.

Established in 2001, Big Skies LLC deals in leasing real estate property and has a mailing address on Grandview Lake in Columbus. Ryan A. and Annette C. Moravec, Big Skies’ owners, could not be reached to comment on their plans for Washington Street building.

In late 2014, the historical society began down a path to invest $1.8 million in the 16,920-square-foot former furniture gallery for a new headquarters and museum over a three- to five-year period. At the time, former executive director Julie Hughes said the benefit of moving into the larger building was to improve the society’s visibility and patronage.

After Hughes resigned in November 2015, the museum’s plans — which included interactive, durable and age-appropriate exhibits — were temporarily shelved by the board for further study, Hatton said.

Now, the 11-member board has determined that a large museum is not the way to go, Hatton said.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.

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