RICHMOND, Ind. – Orange fences block access to once beautiful wraparound porches of neighboring historic homes on East Main Street in Richmond.
It’s easy to imagine former residents sitting on these verandas and watching the traffic. However, these porches are not safe now. Wood and other materials protrude at strange angles, and collapses have opened holes in the roof.
On Tuesday, the city’s heritage preservation commission agreed that the verandas must be removed from buildings 2110 and 2116 E. According to a press release, certificates of adequacy were issued for the moves.
The city police department brought the verandas to the commission for violating city laws and posing a security risk. Commission approval was required because the properties are in the Linden Hill Conservation District.
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Property issues, which include foreclosure proceedings, have fueled the deterioration of the two vacant properties. County Property Records lists Mark Olson of Oelwein, Iowa as the owner of 2110 E. Main St. and Kris Nelson and Heaven and Benjamin Johnson as the owner of 2116 E. Main St., known as the Crain Building.
Nelson acquired the Queen Anne-style Crain building in 2010 under an agreement between First Merchants Bank, Preserve Richmond, the Richmond Historic Preservation Commission, and Indiana Landmarks. He planned to do business in the 130-year-old building that served as a residential building, sanatorium, hospital, inn, tourist center, and residential building.
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That never came to fruition, and the Johnsons agreed to buy the property under a land contract in March 2016, saying that after the renovation, their family will move to the residence on the northwest corner of North 22nd and East Main Streets would. However, they soon encountered criminal and civil problems and their renovation work was halted.
Nelson filed a lawsuit against Johnson in August 2018 to recover the property. However, that lawsuit was dismissed in August 2020 when the sides failed to meet twice and submitted the necessary notices to the court.
Nelson also sold the neighboring property to Olson under a land contract. A lawsuit Nelson filed against Olson in August 2018 to regain ownership of that property remains pending; However, it has shown no activity since a subpoena was served on Olson in August 2020.
Meanwhile, the city continued to file weed liens on both lots, including as recently as August, and property taxes owed have accumulated. This year, according to the county records, $ 3,279.48 is owed for the Crain property and $ 509.55 for the 2110 property.
Indiana Landmarks has agreements on both properties, and its president, Marsh Davis, spoke during the commission meeting on Tuesday. Indiana Landmarks supported the removal of the porches, according to the press release. The group will document the historical character of the verandas so that it can be incorporated into future work on the buildings.
Davis also said Indiana Landmarks will work to find a legal solution to the property’s ownership problems and is determined to stabilize and preserve the properties, the announcement said. The city will monitor the public risk the two buildings pose and will work with Indiana Landmarks to investigate solutions, the announcement said.