Landmark Columbus to aim at new endowment goal

Carla Clark | For The Republic Mark Elwood speaks during Landmark Columbus High Five Day annual meeting at the Upland Columbus Pump House in Columbus on May 31, 2023.

Landmark Columbus Foundation leaders will announce a new endowment fund $3 million goal at its High Five Day annual meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Upland Columbus Pump House at 148 Lindsey St. downtown.

The goal deadline is the end of 2025, according to leaders. The fund currently holds just under $1.1 million.

Landmark Columbus’ mission is to care for, celebrate, and advance the cultural heritage of Columbus.

Mark Elwood, the nonprofit foundation’s board chair who announced last year’s $1 million challenge goal that was reached, will broach the new fundraising subject at next week’s gathering open to all under the theme of “People.”

Elwood chuckled when asked if such a goal — the foundation’s most ambitious financial one yet — was realistic.

“I don’t quite know if I especially love the word realistic,” he said. Elwood pointed out that, just in the past year or two alone, the foundation has played a substantial role in projects across the community:

  • The First Christian Church tower renovation, one of the most iconic representations of the city.
  • The permanent addition if the InterOculus installation to the heart of downtown.
  • The transfer of the former North Christian Church to the Bartholomew County Public Library.
  • The planned new air traffic control tower at Columbus Municipal Airport.
  • The planned new design of the Downtown Entrance Plaza.
  • Planned upgrades and an addition at Schmitt Elementary School.

All of those listed projects have been in the news just since November, and several have made headlines just in the past few weeks, with the foundation serving in a role of guidance.

Elwood and Richard McCoy, founding executive director of the foundation, regularly have emphasized that Landmark is about far more than even architectural beauty and design, and heavily about such pragmatic concerns as progressive preservation, creative and practical building re-use, and related issues.

In that role, the foundation also has generated national publicity for the city on subjects such as the church tower effort and Lucabe Coffee Company’s transforming Eero Saarinen’s former Irwin Union Bank Building into a coffee shop and restaurant. More than once, the Columbus Area Visitors Center staff has mentioned that such attention frequently is of a scale that normal paid advertising often cannot garner.

“If we all want to be sure that Landmark Columbus has staying power, and remains here five, 10 or even 20 years from now, and that we can continue to keep people like Richard McCoy and his staff, then it is therefore important for us to have a strong endowment,” Elwood said. “ … I don’t think that this will be easy.

“But we’re not aiming for easy stuff. We’re aiming for the right stuff.”

Elwood and his spouse, Wendy, also a community leader and volunteer, are among those who have made generous donations to the endowment.

Tuesday’s meeting also will include promotion of the much-publicized, new coffee table book “American Modern: Architecture, Community, Columbus, Indiana” to be released next month by writer Matt Shaw and photographer Iwan Baan, both know for award-winning work. The publication is slated for a multi-page spread in the July issue of Indianapolis Monthly magazine, according to McCoy.

He said fewer than a dozen people have seen an early edition of the volume.

“They are blown away by it,” he said. “The word they most often are using is ‘wow’.”

In keeping with the meeting’s “People” theme, the program will feature a People magazine-style design, McCoy said.

The meeting also will feature a commemorative, limited-edition pin designed by Anna Mort and Rick Valicenti, for those who have made endowment donations.

What High Five Day means

It comes from the fact that Landmark Columbus Foundation was announced on May 5 — the fifth month on the fifth day of 2016. So leaders decided to commemorate that launch each year with a May celebration.