Pendleton gets Funds to Improve Facades

By Rebecca R. Bibbs | The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON — Like Elwood, the town of Pendleton is about to embark on a facade improvement program in its downtown historic district.

A $500,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs will allow the town to restore Gallery 119, Burmeister’s Old Town Antiques, The Pendleton Shop, The Chambers Buildings and the Knights of Pythias Building.

“That’s exciting, like hitting the lottery,” said Pendleton Town Manager Tim McClintick. “We haven’t had a major preservation project like this before. It’s going to be a major facelift to the downtown buildings.”

The grant, however, requires 25 percent in matching funds from owners with whom town officials are working to ensure the money is in place, McClintick said.

“We did work with building owners who were struggling to come up with a match for that,” he said.

Rachel Christenson, assistant planning director for the town, said the facade program is the result of a downtown revitalization study that identified properties with the best potential outcomes.

“People are really passionate about Pendleton, especially downtown Pendleton,” she said. “This is kind of a different avenue for us because we haven’t really gone in and done any structures yet.”

The construction, which is expected to start in May and be completed by the end of 2018, in part because of strict timeframe guidelines in the grant.

Once the facades are complete, they become part of an easement dedicated to the town for seven years, Christenson said. That means any changes made would require permission from the town to protect the investment.

Christenson said as town officials surveyed the buildings in Pendleton, they were surprised how many were boarded up and need some attention. Many, like the Burmeister Building, have been covered over with stucco.

“You can’t even tell it’s a brick building. All that stucco is going to come off,” she said.

McClintick and Christenson said they hope the facade project will encourage other building owners to spruce up their structures.

Pendleton already is home to unique stores and restaurants, attracting visitors from miles around, Christenson said. Giving them something to see in the town’s architecture, much of which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is likely to attract even more, she said.

“We feel that that’s a big draw.”