Lodge saved from demolition
by Kentucky restoration company
important to National
Historic Landmark District
(March 2009) In 11th-hour negotiations, Madison,
Ind.s historic Elks Lodge has been rescued from certain demise.
Hawesville, Ky.-based ReBarr Restoration has agreed to restore the building,
which was severely damaged in an arson fire in August 2006 and then
further destroyed during a September 2008 windstorm.
by Don Ward
Elks Lodge on West Street
will undergo a lengthy restoration
project by ReBarr Restoration.
After several prior agreements to salvage the building
failed, the Elks Lodge 524 donated what is left of the building, land
and additional funds to Madisons Cornerstone Society. Cornerstone,
a local affiliation of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, acted
as a flow-through agency for the transaction. The non-profit organization
then transferred the property and funds to ReBarr Restoration, owned
by Carolyn Barr of Cannelton, Ind.
According to Rich Murray, president of the Cornerstone Society, there
are covenants involved with the transfer of the building. Part of those
are that ReBarr must come up with an emergency stabilization plan with
a week of the Feb. 2 closing and must provide a restoration plan within
It will be a big undertaking, said Barr in a telephone conversation.
When the other agreements failed, I couldnt stand the thought
of the building being torn down.
She made the deal from photographs of the charred structure and said
she was pleased when she actually saw it for the first time in person.
The walls are good and the corners are good, she said. I
have an expert stone worker who will be able to work with it.
The building was just hours from demolition, said Camille
Fife, president of The Westerly Group, a consulting firm that specializes
in preservation. When we were against the wall after a city demolition
order went out, Mayor (Tim) Armstrong and the Elks worked for hours
to help with the resolution.
The mayor delayed the order. Fife and other community members worked
to help save the historic building when it became apparent the Elks
Club was not going to be able to do so.
Fife, who wrote the nomination for Madisons National Historic
Landmark District status through the National Park Service, said the
loss of such a prominent building as the Elks building could have weakened
the status of the citys designation. It would make people
look at us closer and wonder if we couldnt do better, she
Murray said the unique architecture of the building and the location
of it in the center of the business district made it important to the
designation. It was listed separately for major designations because
of its uniqueness, he said. We are happy that Cornerstone
could help facilitate such a worthwhile effort.
Barr became involved in the Elks building project through Greg Sekula,
the southern regional director of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.
Sekula played an important role in bringing the parties together.
In a telephone interview, Sekula said he became familiar with Barrs
work through projects in which his organization was involved in Tell
City, Ind., and Cannelton. In Tell City, ReBarr Restoration is involved
in a work in progress for the foundation. In Cannelton, the company
helped restore an early 20th century home, The Obrecht House.
The masonry work her stone mason did for us was masterful,
said Sekula. Barrs passion and dedication to preservation
will lead her to do a good job.
Tony Steinhardt, an Elks Club representative, said club members were
happy to see someone step forward to restore the building. After the
arson fire destroyed the building, the club unsuccessfully attempted
to negotiate ways to save the structure. We want to thank Cornerstone
for helping in this situation, and we look forward to seeing the building
rehabilitated, he said.
Donations and grant money that were collected to save the building by
the Elks were given to Cornerstone, who then passed those along to ReBarr
Currently, the Elks Club meets at a temporary location at 313 W. First
St. The five-member board of directors is looking at several options
for a new permanent home for the Elks, now that they have received their
insurance settlement for the burned building. They have discussed leasing
the former Madison County Club, now owned by I.K.E.C. power plant, but
Steinhardt said no recommendations have been made yet. Members also
have considered buying and renovating the former Local Harvest Market
building that is for sale on West Main Street.
We are hoping the board will have something recommended by the
end of March, he said.
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