Clay Township aiming to provide new building for Carmel Clay Historical Society and its archives

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The Carmel Clay Historical Society needs a new building, but any discussions on when that might happen are in the preliminary stages.

“We don’t have any contracts in place. At this point, it’s just an idea,” Clay Township board member Matt Snyder said. “Part of the township’s mission is to promote the couple of hundred year tradition of the township. For many years, we’ve supported the historical society. They’ve outgrown their space, and the building they have is no longer habitable due to a number of structural issues and possibly asbestos. There was fear of water damage and structural damage. It can’t protect a human, let alone 100-year-old archives.”

Snyder said that in order to provide the CCHS with new space to keep the chronological history alive, a new building is needed.

“We felt it pertinent that we get them a space they can call home for the next 100 years,” Snyder said.

Some of the train-related archives have been moved inside the nearby Monon Depot, 211 1st St. SW, which was built in 1883, and many other items have been placed in two storage units.

“The materials were deemed no longer safe in that building,” Snyder said. “There are a lot of artifacts unique to Carmel, including the world’s first stoplight. There are a lot of paper documents that hopefully generations to come can appreciate.”

Snyder said there has been discussion about what kind of space will most benefit CCHS.

“It’s just a matter of identifying what the needs of the historical society are and building a structure that will meet those needs,” Snyder said. “This would be part of the Clay Township Impact Program.”

CCHS Executive Director Debbie Gangstad said the organization had the option of repairing the roof, which was one issue.

“But we just felt that was putting good money after bad,” Gangstad said. “We had a lot of issues over there. We put a lot in storage because covering things with plastic isn’t a good way to handle your archival things. We are hoping within the next year and a half or so we might have another location where we can have it safer. Any building would be on the same site because we own the land.”


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