A decision of the city to move the historic Santa House from the downtown square to Federal Hill Commons has changed.
City of Noblesville officials announced an initial change Oct. 26 to move the Santa House from the square to the park, about one-third of a mile down the road, after a complaint was made during last year’s festivities that the house was not ADA compliant or accessible by wheelchair.
But, as of press time, after citizen backlash, the city is actively working with the Hamilton County Historical Society to keep the Santa House on the square and to install a ramp to make it ADA compliant. The house at Federal Hill Commons will be a brand new structure and will sit on the amphitheater stage, which is accessible with an existing ramp.
On Oct. 31, at Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear’s State of the City address to Noblesville Chamber of Commerce members, he said the city had made a mistake.
“I’ve got to eat some crow here. I just found out (Oct. 30), and I sure wish I would have found out (Oct. 25 or 26), that the Santa House is owned by the county, not by Noblesville,” Ditslear said. “We are going to encourage (the Hamilton County Historical Society to work together to have Santa back on the square. The ADA non-compliance will be taken care of.”
For more than a half-century, Noblesville residents have gone to see Santa downtown on the courthouse square. The current home, and the one before it were built by Don Roberts and donated to Hamilton County. The very first Santa House, however, was build by Richard Carey Zeiss. Roberts’ first Santa House paid homage to Zeiss, as the interior was decorated with murals painted by Zeiss and his daughter, Dottie (Zeiss) Young, who lives in downtown Noblesville today.
City officials said the initial decision to try to move the original Santa House to Federal Hill Commons also was inspired by easier access to parking and restrooms and general increased safety.
Hours for either house have not yet been announced.