Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 8, 2012

Redevelopment Commission now owns Queen Anne-style house

GOSHEN — The building permit from six years ago is still taped in the window of the 146-year-old house, oddly underscoring the lack of activity at one of Goshen’s more historic houses.

But a move by city officials could signal a new chapter for the property known by some as the Sherck home and more formally known as 324 S. Fifth Street.

Earlier last week, the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety approved a request to transfer authority of the property from the city to the city’s redevelopment commission, a technical move that will allow the commission to solicit offers from those interested in acquiring the corner lot at Madison and Fifth streets.

The city government purchased the house with the intentions of protecting the historic house’s future — even if the house had to be moved to accommodate the possible widening of U.S. 33. While road plans remain up in the air, officials appear content to at least find a tenant for the house who would be interested in buying the house.

Officials in the past had considered having the Queen Anne-style brick home moved either a few feet to the north to accommodate the widening project or relocated to a different lot if necessary.

The Indiana Department of Transporation has been considering two options for U.S. 33. One involves widening parts of the existing route and the other involves constructing a north connector road that would channel traffic around the downtown business district.

In the meantime, city officials want to make the house available with conditions that would still accommodate state plans for the road, said Mark Brinson, director of community development for the city.

“It’s a great looking house. It’s in a prime location for different types of activities,” Brinson said. “Whatever we do, we want to be respectful of not only the architecture of the house, but also be sensitive to finding uses compatible with the neighborhood.”

In the next few months, the redevelopment commission is expected to seek interested bidders who would be willing to lease the house for a while and then purchase it once state road plans are finalized.

Conditions protecting those concerns would be part of the agreement, Brinson said.

“We’ve had enough interest to know there are people in the community that like the architecture, the historic nature of the house and the fact it is near downtown,” Brinson said.

Ervin Beck, who chairs the historical markers committee for the Elkhart County Historical Society, calls it a “wonderful” house.

“I would say it is one of the finest in the city,” Beck said.

According to Beck, the house was designed by Goshen native Cass Chapman, who was responsible for several other significant buildings in the community. Joseph A. S. Mitchell, Goshen’s third mayor, who went on to be an Indiana Supreme Court justice, owned the house initially.

Considering its age, the 1866 house, featuring Queen Anne-style architecture, appears to be in fairly good shape, but Brinson said the roof is among the things that need attention. A portion of an exterior brick wall is also in need of repair.

“There are some maintenance issues that need to be addressed,” Brinson said. “In order to make it habitable, there’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done.

The city painted the exterior a few years ago, changing it from white to a terra cotta color.

Inside, the floors feel solid, but paint and wallpaper on the walls and ceilings need work.

The house includes several oval-shaped stained-glass windows and inside, some of the rooms are separated by several sets of pocket doors.

A few publications from decades ago are strewn about. One shelf contains old school books from the 1940s. In one cabinet are a collection of magazines, including a Nov. 8, 1965 copy of Newsweek magazine with Joseph C. Wilson, founder of Xerox Corp., on the cover. The mailing label was addressed to Noble G. Sherck.

According to city records, the house was appraised for $125,000 in 2004.

The redevelopment commission is expected to discuss the issue later this month.

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