Saving History: Westfield Preservation Alliance, Indiana Landmarks are attempting to preserve the historic building at 102 S. Union St. • Current release

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The Westfield Preservation Alliance has worked to save historic buildings in downtown Westfield for more than a decade. The nonprofit organization recently learned that their efforts saved a special building that was constructed in the late 1830s.

The green building at 102 S. Union St., the southeast quadrant of Ind. 32 and Union Street, will likely be moved to a new location when the street widening project on Ind. 32 begins.

Indiana Landmarks Vice President Mark Dollase and Westfield Preservation Alliance Board Member Linda Naas were instrumental in saving the building. She said the organization has been trying to designate a historic neighborhood in which the building is located since 2012. The area was designated in 2019 and encompasses approximately 16 acres in downtown Westfield. The northern boundary extends several blocks north of Penn Street. The eastern boundary extends a little beyond Walnut Street. The southern boundary extends just past Jersey Street. And the western border stretches just beyond Camilla Court.

When the City of Westfield proposed expanding Ind. 32 through downtown, the Westfield Preservation Alliance recognized that the buildings on the south side of Ind. 32 were threatened with demolition. Because Ind. 32 is a state road, the city went through a lengthy permitting process to widen the road. Those efforts resulted in a letter from the state’s historical review board, which said the city could proceed with street widening if it meets 11 commitments, including preserving the building at 102 S. Union St. if the building is not preserved the city would need to establish a mitigation fund for historical preservation work, initiatives or programs focused on preserving the Westfield community.

“I can guarantee that if Indiana Landmarks and the Westfield Preservation Alliance hadn’t pushed for those 11 points, the road would have been widened without those kinds of environmental and historical considerations,” Dollase said. “We’ve been in meetings for over two years to get to this point.”

The building dates from the late 1830’s when it was originally a drugstore. In its 190-year history, it has also housed a grocery store, restaurants, and most recently a dance studio.

Dollase said while it “might not be particularly attractive,” the building retains original features that make it historic and salvageable.

“To be honest, the first floor was changed quite a bit because it was used for so many different things,” he said. “It’s really cool going through the basement because you can see how the building was actually built. It has exposed wooden beams that are used to hold up the floor system. You can see where the adze (an axe-like tool) was used to remove the bark from the wood.”

Dollase said the second floor was quite original, and the original wood paneling is still under the clapboard-framed paneling seen today. The building still has parquet floors, decorative details and a fireplace.

Dollase said he envisioned the building housing a future business on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor. The three areas being considered for the building’s new home are Hadley Park in the northwest quadrant of Ind. 32 and Union Street; on North Union near the entrance to Asa Bales Park; and on North Union on a lot south of the new Westfield Playhouse, although the third option is not in the historic district.

Naas and Dollase expect to know where the building might move by summer.

“We’d like it on a corner and in the historic district,” Naas said.

Dollase said if the building is moved it would only be a few blocks. He estimated the cost of the move to be between $35,000 and $45,000, but that doesn’t include the cost of the land.

“There are movers that specialize in moving historic buildings,” Dollase said. “They bring in equipment to put under the structure, lift it onto the bunk and move it and set it on new foundations. Sometimes they wrap the outside or support the building within the building.”

For more information, visit the Westfield Preservation Alliance Facebook page at facebook.com/historicalpreservation.

A historical snapshot of the building at 102 S. Union St.

Westfield Preservation Alliance board member Linda Naas said the green building at 102 S. Union St. was known as Westfield’s “solid center” during its heyday. The building was originally The Old Corner Drug Store when constructed sometime between 1837 and 1842. A firm construction date has not been identified. The Old Corner Drug Store operated for 60 years when the building later served as a post office for four years. Then from 1899 to 1958 it was the home of Funderburgh’s Grocery Store.

Pickett’s Cafeteria operated in the building from 1958 to 2002. It subsequently housed several restaurants through 2020, including Keltie’s, Caso Blanco and most recently Ericka’s Place. The building now houses Dance Innovations, a dance studio.

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