Westfield Preservation Alliance has worked for more than a decade to save historic buildings in downtown Westfield. Recently, the nonprofit organization learned that its efforts have saved a special building that was built 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 road-widening project on Ind. 32 begins.
Indiana Landmarks Vice President of Preservation Mark Dollase and Linda Naas, a Westfield Preservation Alliance board member, was instrumental in saving the building. She said the organization had been trying since 2012 to designate a historical district where the building is located. The area was designated in 2019 and includes roughly 16 acres within downtown Westfield. The northern boundary stretches several blocks north of Penn Street. The eastern boundary stretches a little past Walnut Street. The southern Boundary stretches just past Jersey Street. And the Western boundary stretches just past Camilla Court.
When the City of Westfield proposed widening Ind. 32 through downtown, the Westfield Preservation Alliance realized the buildings on the south side of Ind. 32 were at risk for demolition. Because Ind. 32 is a state highway, the city went through a lengthy process for approval to widen the road. That effort resulted in a letter from the state’s historic review board stating the city could move forward with the road widening if it adhered to 11 commitments, including preserving the building at 102 S. Union St. If the building could not be preserved, the city would have to establish a mitigation fund for historic preservation work, initiatives or programs that focused on persevering the community of Westfield.
“I can guarantee if Indiana Landmarks and Westfield Preservation Alliance hadn’t been pushing for these 11 points, the road would have been widened without these kinds of environmental and historic considerations,” Dollase said. “We were in meetings for over two years to get to this point.”
The building dates back to the late 1830s when it was originally a drugstore. Throughout its 190-year history, it has also housed a grocery store, restaurants and, most recently, a dance studio.
Dollase said although it might “not be particularly attractive,” the building maintains original features that make it historic and worthy of saving.
“Frankly, the first floor has been altered quite a bit because it has been used for so many different things,” he said. “The basement level is really cool to walk through because there you can see how the building was actually constructed. It has exposed log beams that are used to hold up the floor system. You can see where the adze (a tool similar to an ax) was used to clear off the bark from the lumber.”
Dollase said the second floor is fairly original, and the original wood siding is still underneath the clapboard frame siding seen today. The building still has hardwood floors, trim detail and a fireplace.
Dollase said he can envision the building housing a future business on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor. The three areas under consideration for the building’s new home are Hadley Park on 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 this 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 move to cost between $35,000 and $45,000, but that does not include the cost of the land.
“There’s moving companies that specialize in (moving historic buildings),” Dollase said. “They bring equipment in to put underneath the structure, lift it onto the flatbed and move it and put it onto a new foundation. Sometimes they will wrap the outside or add support within the building.”
For more, visit the Westfield Preservation Alliance Facebook page at facebook.com/historicalpreservation.
A historic snapshot into 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 a “solid center” of Westfield during its prime. The building first was The Old Corner Drug Store when it was built 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 then later served as a post office for four years. Then, it was home to Funderburgh’s Grocery Store from 1899 to 1958.
Pickett’s Cafeteria operated in the building from 1958 to 2002. It then housed several restaurants, such as Keltie’s, Caso Blanco and, most recently, Ericka’s Place until 2020. The building is now home to Dance Innovations, a dance studio.