Landmark Columbus Foundation explores ‘Progressive Preservation’

COLUMBUS, Ind. — It seemed more than fitting that Landmark Columbus Foundation’s kickoff of its new Progressive Preservation Talks series unfolded Tuesday in a 100-seat structure connected to a former chicken-hatchery-turned-orchestral-office downtown.

Because the preservation of the three-story building known as Helen Haddad Hall at 315 Franklin St. seems as progressive as anything in the city a project that gave the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic prized and unique space for the extensive future and the ensemble’s growth while saving a century-plus-year-old building with solid bones.

Call it the past and the future working in concert.

That general concept was part of the panel-style discussion among Richard McCoy, the local nonprofit foundation’s executive director; and Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, the nation’s largest nonprofit, statewide preservation organization, with a membership exceeding 8,000 and a network of field offices throughout Indiana; and Tiffany Tolbert, associate director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation based in Washington, D.C. The Action Fund is the largest preservation fund in U.S. history dedicated to the preservation of historic African American places, according to its background information.

Near the end of their discussion before a crowd of about 70 people surfaced local preservation projects such as the Crump Theater, currently being gradually restored and renovated as funds become available.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop presented a proclamation to Davis naming Tuesday Indiana Landmarks Day. In the citation, the mayor aptly referenced Davis’ support and work the past several years to preserve both First Christian Church and North Christian Church, the city’s two best-known Modernist houses of worship. But Davis said he has keen interest in another local project the 132-year-old art-deco Crump.

“Before I retire, I definitely want to help get that up and running and in service once again,” Davis said.

Indiana Landmarks already assisted by placing the Crump on its 2019 10 Most Endangered Structures list, earning it extra attention among history buffs and preservationists.

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