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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ind. Decisions - "Judge orders historic home to be repaired "

Ben Zion Hershberg writes today in the Louisville Courier Journal, in a story headlined "Judge orders historic home to be repaired," that:

A judge has ruled that a legal agreement remains in effect requiring the exterior of a historic home in Georgetown to be maintained -- despite an extensive fire there on Oct. 31.

The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana holds a preservation easement requiring the maintenance of the home's fa├žade. * * *

By ruling that the fire did not cause "major destruction," Special Judge Daniel Donahue essentially required that its exterior be repaired by owners Lynda Riggle Meyer and Charles Meyer under the terms of the preservation easement. * * *

The home, known as the Yenowine-Nichols-Collins House, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Expert witnesses for the foundation said at last week's hearing that the most important part of the house -- much of its two-story front section, which was built in the 1830s -- could be stabilized and repaired, Sekula said.

Donahue ruled Aug. 4 that the Meyers had to repair the home's exterior, based on the preservation easement that Mabelle Collins had entered into with the foundation in 1983. It requires the foundation to regularly inspect the house and see that the family homestead is preserved "in perpetuity." * * *

Donahue had ordered repairs to begin by Sept. 1. At the Meyers' request, he gave them until Oct. 17 to get bids for the work. Repairs had not begun at the time of the fire, which firefighters said required 30 to 40 minutes to extinguish. Investigators said it was caused by arson, but no arrests have been made.

Paul Diebold, senior architectural historian with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said he visited the house Nov. 7 at the request of the foundation and because of his concerns about the condition of a building on the National Register of Historic Places. * * *

Diebold said he believes it's important to put a new roof on the house within a couple of weeks and board up any openings to keep moisture out, especially with winter on its way.

He said tax-credit programs are available to help owners, if the building is put into use as an office, or grants are available if it's restored by a nonprofit organization.

It's not clear when any steps will be taken to stabilize the house. Donahue has scheduled a hearing Jan. 6 on a motion by the Meyers' lawyers to correct errors that, they argue, he made in his first ruling.

Sekula said he doesn't know whether the foundation will take additional legal action to get the house stabilized quickly.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 22, 2005 01:35 PM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions