State grants awarded to preserve Indiana history

By Taylor Dixon  
TheStatehouseFile.com 

INDIANAPOLIS—After years of decay, the Friends of the Chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother in Ferdinand, Indiana are excited to begin restoring a piece of their history that dates to the founding of their town with the help of the state’s Historic Renovation Grant Program.   

“It means a lot to the town,” Diana Hoppenjans, chair of the Friends of the Chapel, said of the structure built nearly a century and a half ago. “It’s kind of our way of recalling back to our ancestry, because when out German ancestors built this building, they meant for it to stay forever.”   

Chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother in Ferdinand, Indiana. Provided photo

Christ the King Parish is receiving a grant of $100,000 to restore the outside of the Chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother from the grant program administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Hoppenjans said the plan is to repair the brick exterior of the building with the hope of then moving inside to recreate it as a usable chapel.  

The Chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother is one of a dozen community projects that received funding from the OCRA’s renovation grant program, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announced Monday. The grants range from $5,000 to $100,000 and all eligible sites must be at least 50 years old and either registered as one of Indiana’s historic structures or be listed or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The roof of the chapel in Ferdinand was repaired and the steeple and bell tower were restored in the first phase of the church’s restoration. The grant allows the parish to move to phases two and three where they will restore the windows and repoint the brick and foundation.  

Chapel of our Sorrowful Mother in Ferdinand, Indiana. Provided photo

The chapel had original stain glass windows that originated from Germany 143 years ago and are a reminder of the community’s German heritage. The glass will be restored as closely as possible to the original and storm windows will be added to protect them from the elements. 

“Preservation efforts like this ensure a future for our many vacant, neglected or historic properties that might otherwise be lost,” Crouch said in a press release.

The Historic Renovation Grant Program has helped preserve history across Indiana for four years. Nearly $600,000 will be spent this year on these grants that are going to help preserve history for Hoosiers in 12 projects from Albany to Jasper. 

In the town of Vernon, more than $18,000 will be used to preserve the Sherman Row House, which was constructed in 1830 and became part of the Underground Railroad to help enslaved people as they escaped from bondage in the south in the mid-1800s. Slaves were brought from the Muscatatuck River and hid in tunnels that had been dug beneath the building.

Window at the chapel of Our Sorrowful Mother in Ferdinand, Indiana. Provided photo

Other projects include $7,350 to recreate a missing bell tower in a one-room school house in Winchester and nearly $46,000 will be used to preserve 22 windows at Lagro United Methodist Church, which was built in a Gothic Revival style in 1915.

 “We are excited to fund projects that stretch across the state, from New Albany to Wabash, both small and large projects,” said Matt Crouch, OCRA’s interim executive director, in the news release. “These projects help preserve pieces of Indiana’s rich history to be enjoyed by residents and visitors for generations to come.” 

Taylor Dixon is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. 

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