Town of Plainfield Acquires Prewitt Theatre, Continues Success of Restoration Projects
Writer / Stephanie Singh
Photography provided by Plainfield Public Library & Amy Payne
The Town of Plainfield recently closed on the historic Prewitt Theatre on Main Street. This purchase is cause for celebrating the Town of Plainfield’s rich history of preserving historic buildings. This property is the former anchor of our downtown and has sat empty for some 15 years. Plainfield will continue to study the property for appropriate and accurate restoration as well as working with those that have already reached out for possible reuses to support its renewal as a vibrant part of our downtown. For years, the Town of Plainfield has worked collaboratively with private and non-profit partners to ensure that developments emulate the character of existing properties within historic districts. It has been a priority of the town and remains a priority outlined in the Land Use and Development section of the Town of Plainfield Comprehensive Plan.
The Town of Plainfield has invested in many projects in order to preserve the character of some of the most notable buildings. In 2002, the Plainfield Restoration Project initiated a facade improvement plan in the downtown district and offered matching grants to improve and restore building facades to enhance the appeal and condition of our historic downtown properties. When the First National Bank was constructed in 2003, there were intentional design elements of the building to ensure it blended with other downtown buildings on US 40. The Restoration Project also included sidewalk, signal and light pole investments as well as crosswalks and other improvements to complement these buildings.
Plainfield also partnered with the owners of the Oasis Diner to relocate the classic diner from the east-side of town to its new home in the center of town. This project was a direct effort to save this historic and iconic eating establishment. Now prominent on US 40, Oasis Diner is hugely successful and exemplifies the town’s efforts to honor our history all the while supporting a private establishment that now connects to the economic vibrancy of our Town Center.
Additional preservation efforts have included the historic iron bridge now used as a trail crossing of White Lick Creek in Friendship Gardens and the Interurban Depot Train Station building on Vine Street. The Depot, built in 1906, was purchased by the American Legion Post No. 329 in the 1940s after interurban use declined. On October 29, 2003, after being transferred to the town, the building was restored and dedicated to community use, as it is now managed by the Plainfield Parks Department for programs and private rentals for meetings, family gatherings and events.
These projects demonstrate the careful consideration that is paid to the ‘right project for the right reasons’. Often times the town is asked to participate in efforts to save a property that might have historical ties. In all cases, the town deploys thoughtful and careful efforts to ensure that such participation is the best stewardship of taxpayer dollars and can have a reuse or property transfer plan that is sustainable and makes sense. As we embark on the multi-year Downtown Redevelopment Conceptual Plans, these same considerations will be made when we have new requests to consider historic properties. It is the intention of the Town Council to celebrate and protect our historical character and “small-town feel” through our on-going historical preservation efforts.
This commitment is validated by projects such as the plan to restore the “Apple House” and “Garden House” on the Al and Jan Barker Sports Complex property. These buildings originally part of the former Indiana Boy School property. The buildings are listed as a historic site and the town is committed in the near future to have it fully restored. The reuse of the property could include additional administrative office space for our Parks Department, office and community space for our youth sports non-profit partners and might include a small measure to honor the history of the building and property.
Most recently is the consideration of the “Little House,” also known as the “Carpenter House,” which is the Victorian-style house just west of Town. Many residents have inquired about the fate of this property. Recently, the town has been asked by Hendricks Regional Health to consider a potential partnership to study the feasibility of saving this iconic house. The adjacent property is currently planned for redevelopment by HRH and Plainfield is exploring options that might save the structure should it be deemed it is indeed able to be rescued.
These efforts — past, present and future — are significant examples of the commitment of the Town of Plainfield to honor and preserve our history. We are devoted to such efforts and look forward to the future of our current acquired properties to continue preserving the past of Plainfield.