City officials invite residents to tour the Memorial Home

Jul. 29—On Tuesday, a group of people were applying some care to the Cass County Memorial home, cleaning, polishing, doing lawn work and getting it ready for an upcoming open house.

Although the building shows the signs of aging and being closed up for more than a decade, it still sits regally atop the small hill at 706 E. Market St.

“There’s a lot of grandeur left in this old building,” said Logansport City Council President Dave Morris. “It’s no doubt it’s rough, and it’s going to take a lot of money to fix it up.”

The last estimate for fixing up the memorial was from a 2017 private study, and it would’ve taken $2 million then.

Despite the neglect and lack of use, both parts of the building are very much intact, from the Kendick-Baldwin house built around 1860 to the gathering hall addition added to the back of the house in 1922.

But what will be the future of this World War I veterans memorial?

City officials want to hear from Logansport and Cass County residents about what they think should be done with it. That’s why they’re inviting the public to an open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Those interested in saving the memorial have started bringing county and city officials into the building because many of the new ones haven’t been inside.

“How can you make a decision on something you’ve never seen?” Morris said.

There is a leak in the roof that needs to be taken care of, and the city has put out a request for proposals for the roof and soffit repair.

“If we want to save the building, we need to put a roof on it,” Morris said.

People now mostly know about the Memorial Home through reports of conflict between the two owners, the county and the city.

There have also been lawsuits filed by citizens about the county not putting money into the building — as state law requires for a memorial. Morris said there are talks about the city taking the building over entirely.

There was interest in the building about two years ago from a Noblesville businessman who wanted to turn it into an event hall, but he wanted the city to renovate it.

“He didn’t want to invest in the building,” Morris said. “But he said if we wanted to invest in the building, he’d set up catering, a wedding venue.”

It has been a venue for events, bands and dances in the past.

Morris pointed out the leaded glass and stained glass windows still intact, and the pressed tin ceilings. The pocket doors, which slide into the walls between rooms, are also functioning.

The original woodwork is intact, too.

“Structurally, for this being 100 years old, it’s in amazing shape,” Morris said.

Lisa Terry, who’s on the Logansport Board of Works and is involved in Saturday’s event, said “It would be sickening for this to be leveled in any way.”

The house portion of the building was built around 1860, according to the sign out front.

In August 2008, Richard Copeland wrote for the Pharos-Tribune that it was Logansport’s first private home built during the Civil War.

Banker Stewart B. Kendrick brought his wife, Maria, and their three daughters here from New York. He commissioned local contractor George Bevan to build the house, based on the design of a house on the Hudson River in New York.

According to the Cass County Visitors Bureau, Kendrick came to establish a bank, but it failed in 1965.

The Kendrick family returned to New York, and the home was sold, becoming two different schools before becoming a boarding house in 1875, Copeland wrote.

Daniel Pratt Baldwin — a lawyer who’d become a judge and the state’s attorney general — and his wife, India Smith Baldwin, bought the house in 1880.

He or his family stayed in it until 1920, when Cass County bought it.

The county and the American Legion renovated the house, then made it a memorial and put on the addition, which still has an American Legion star over the southeast door.

About 25,000 people showed up for the dedication, Morris said.

Terry said the last time the Memorial Home was used was around 2013-2014 for an Artrageous fundraiser she was involved with.

They’d wanted to show off the building, she said.

Morris estimated that was the only use in the last 20 years or so.

“There were a lot of social events in here,” he said.

When he was a mail carrier, they had Christmas parties at the Memorial Home, and there were private New Year’s Eve parties.

Terry said she remembers junior high dances there, and it was used as a voting place, she said.

On Saturday, people can let them know how to preserve those memories — and maybe make more for the future.

Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at [email protected] or 574-732-5117

Twitter @JamesDWolfJr