The Switzerland County Historical Society’s board of directors held its monthly meeting on Monday night, and has made a public comment on the controversy over the potential removal of the mural on the south wall of the Historic Hoosier Theater.
“We support the theater board in doing what is right for the long term good of the building,” Martha Bladen of the Historical Society read. “According to preservation specialists, structural deterioration can be remedied by removing the paint and tuck pointing the building.
“We’ve all enjoyed the mural, but realize it’s time to move on,” the statement continued. “The building comes first.”
Martha Bladen said that she has been in contact with Seth Elder of Indiana Landmarks because she was the President of Historic Vevay, Inc., which operates the Historic Hoosier Theater, at the time that the mural was contracted.
“I did check with Landmarks or DHPA, I couldn’t remember which, but I did check because I wanted to know if you could paint a building that was on the National Register,” Martha Bladen said. “At that time, they said ‘yes, you can’. They later found out that there were convenants. There is a covenant on the building, a facade easement, because Landmarks actually gave a loan to the theater, and there was a covenant that we were not aware of and nobody found out until Seth recently checked.”
Martha Bladen also said that at the time the mural was started, Danner’s Hardware in Vevay was carrying Porter Paints. She said that Porter Paints was a preservation-recommended paint.
“Anita Danner, at that time, contacted Porter Paints to tell them what we were doing, and they sent their specialist to make a recommendation as to what was the right paint to use, and that’s what we bought,” Martha Bladen said.
The Historic Vevay board at the time that the mural was started paid for all of the paint supplies, for the rental of equipment, and Josiah Leatherbury was contracted by the theater board to paint the mural.
Martha Bladen said that she feels that Indiana Landmarks does want to do what’s right for the building, and that it will support the theater in trying to remove the mural in order to preserve the wall of the building.
She also noted that all of the work done by the Historic Vevay board leading up to the decision to have the mural taken down was extensive in looking for other options.
“It’s not like they were trying to do away with the mural, in fact, they wanted to preserve it,” Martha Bladen said. “The theater is doing what they have to do.”
Martha Bladen said that historic preservation is and will continue to be an ongoing effort here in Switzerland County.
“We’re dealing with structural issues with the barn at the farmstead,” she said. “The one that was already there. It’s going to be an ongoing thing because that’s what our community is rich in, its architecture. That’s what you work to preserve, and if you can’t preserve the building itself, then you do everything you can to keep the history of that site alive.
“It’s the type of community we live in,” Martha Bladen continued. “It’s our best resource in the sense of when you look at heritage tourism, which we think is a very valuable thing for our community. That’s what you do, is you take care of the buildings.”