Sides settle in historic house demolition lawsuit, Bloomington doesn’t levy $83.5K fine

A settlement agreement approved by the court last week means that the owner of a house at 523 West 7th St. across from Fairview Elementary School will not be fined $83,500 for demolishing it about two years ago without the proper permit.

It was Monroe County circuit court judge Kara Krothe who signed off on the settlement, by ordering the case dismissed, based an a joint motion from the two sides—the owners and the city of Bloomington.

In fall 2019, the house was under consideration by Bloomington’s historic preservation commission (HPC) for designation as historic.

It was on Aug. 8, 2019 when the HPC recommended that the city council consider designating the house as historic. But the commission’s resolution was missing a crucial element: It did not explicitly say that the house was being put under interim protection.

Before it was put on the city council’s agenda for action, towards the end of September 2019, owners David Holdman and Judie Baker had the house demolished. They did not have the required certificate of zoning compliance. Continue reading “Sides settle in historic house demolition lawsuit, Bloomington doesn’t levy $83.5K fine”

Analysis: Possible historic designation of building a chance to reckon with Bloomington’s racism

On the Bloomington city council’s Wednesday agenda for a first reading is an ordinance that would establish a new single-property historic district for the building at 424 1/2 S. Walnut Street.

Consideration of the ordinance could be a chance for the city council and the community to review an episode from Bloomington’s restaurant industry in 1950, which was described this way in a World-Telephone article: “Downtown Bloomington restaurants, closed this week in protest of a campaign to force them to serve Negroes, are to be reopened for business beginning on Thursday of this week, serving customers of all colors.”

The building at 424 1/2 S. Walnut is probably best known for the most recent business that was housed there, which was The Player’s Pub.

Part of the argument for the property’s historic designation is the building’s connection to Henry Boxman, who operated the place as Boxman’s Restaurant” for nearly three decades, from 1929 to 1958.

One of the possible criteria that can qualify a building for historic designation is its association “with a person who played a significant role in local, state, or national history.”

Boxman is described in the report prepared by Conor Herterich, the city’s historic preservation program manager, as “one of Bloomington’s greatest restaurateurs,” who helped found the Indiana Restaurant Association and re-established the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, among other achievements.

Not a part of the report prepared by Herterich is an analysis of where, if anywhere, Boxman’s Restaurant might have fit into the segregationist history of Bloomington’s downtown restaurant scene of the 1950s.

Continue reading “Analysis: Possible historic designation of building a chance to reckon with Bloomington’s racism”

Former Player’s Pub building: Veiled “sensitive” info could form backdrop to city council’s consideration for historic designation

At its Thursday night meeting, Bloomington’s historic preservation commission (HPC) took two votes that put the former Player’s Pub building on a possible path to permanent historic protection.

The specter of some not-yet-confirmed “sensitive” information that could “sully some reputations” was raised by one commissioner, but that did not convince his colleagues to put off their vote.

They’re working under a deadline that is imposed by the demolition delay procedure that was triggered when the owners sought to demolish the building. It’s listed as “contributing” in the Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory as well as the local inventory.

The 90-day demolition delay window expires on Oct. 30. A delay on Thursday night would have meant calling a special meeting between now and next Friday, if commissioners had delayed and still wanted to pursue the possibility of historic designation.

In one of its resolutions, the HPC put the building on South Walnut Street under interim protection. In the other resolution, the HPC forwarded its recommendation to the city council to give the property historic designation.

Action by the commissioners on Thursday came after a decision they made a couple of weeks ago, which was not to release the building for demolition and instead to start the process that could lead to historic designation. Continue reading “Former Player’s Pub building: Veiled “sensitive” info could form backdrop to city council’s consideration for historic designation”

Commission staves off demolition of former Boxman’s Restaurant, aka Player’s Pub building

Getting a reprieve from demolition on Thursday night was the building on the 400 block of South Walnut Street in Bloomington, just north of Seminary Park, which most recently was home to The Player’s Pub.

A vote by the city’s historic preservation commission (HPC) to end the 90-day period of demolition delay, and to allow owner Josh Alley to tear down the structure, failed on a 3–5 vote.

On a nearly mirror image vote—5–2 with one abstention—the HPC voted to start the formal process for a review of the property, with an eye towards putting it in front of Bloomington’s city council for local historic designation.

The building is not in a local historic district or local conservation district that is under the jurisdiction of the HPC. But the request to demolish the building had to go in front of the HPC because it is listed as “contributing” in the Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory as well as the local inventory.

When the HPC hands off the question to Bloomington’s city council, the HPC can also put the property under interim protection, which would prohibit the owner from demolishing the building in the meantime. The interim protection can remain in effect until the city council approves the proposed historic district boundary map, by adopting it in an ordinance, or rejects the map.

Under local code [BMC 8.08.010(d)] the next steps for the HPC include: preparing a map setting forth the new historic district’s boundaries and building classifications; holding a public hearing on the question; notifying adjacent property owners about the public hearing; deciding to submit the map to the city council for consideration; and preparing a report for the city council detailing which of the specific criteria justify historic designation. Continue reading “Commission staves off demolition of former Boxman’s Restaurant, aka Player’s Pub building”