As a lifelong Westfield resident with deep family roots, Westfield Preservation Alliance Executive Director Judi Shuck has strong feelings about the city’s history.
“Over the last few years, we’ve been disappointed losing so much of the older homes,” the 1965 Westfield High School graduate said. “What makes you is your roots. That’s why history is important.”
So, she was especially pleased when the City of Westfield learned in February it would have its downtown area placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Aug. 13 at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, Westfield was presented its certificate for the National Register at this Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology during a ceremony for properties newly listed to the National Register at the ninth annual Dept. of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony. During the presentation, Westfield Preservation Alliance officers and city councilors Joe Edwards and Cindy Spoljaric, who were key contributors to the nomination process, were recognized.
“We hope people can have respect for that history and respect for a building that has been sustainable for over 100 years,” Shuck said. “You can re-purpose it to be something charming.”
The area includes historical buildings along Main Street as well as the old fire station and businesses and residences on North Union Street and Penn Street.
“It’s not only important to preserve them, it’s the history of Westfield,” said Susan Boyer, secretary and one of the founders of the Westfield Preservation Alliance. “It’s the roots of the city. It’s important to the residents of that area to try to preserve as much as possible for the future of the city. There are close to 50-some buildings. If they are contributing, they have to be 50 years are older. Most of the buildings in that area are from the late 1800s to early 1900s when they were built, so most do qualify for being over 50 years old. Some are well over 100 years old.
“They have to meet the integrity of the building and the style of the architecture.”
Boyer said the Westfield Preservation Alliance was formed in 2009 and immediately started gathering information about the historic area.
“We hired a researcher in 2016 because it’s a very extensive project to research the area and the history of the buildings and the architectural importance of the buildings,” Boyer said.
Boyer said the oldest, most important buildings are at the intersection of Union Street and Main Street.
“The one that used to be Funderburgh & Son grocery store was built in 1860 and is now Erica’s Place (102 S. Union),” she said. “The other side of the intersection is the old Mendenhall drug store. That building was built in 1924. The original building is no longer there.”
There are 38 contributing buildings, meaning they meet all the criteria, Boyer said.
“There are 13 non-contributing buildings, which means they have been altered to the point where it no longer met all the historical attributes,” Boyer said.
Union Bible College also is on the National Register, Shuck said.
“That was the Quaker school started in 1861 and there are five buildings, and my great-great grandfather’s home is one of those buildings,” Shuck said. “He and his wife were in charge of the school.”