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Save Our Stories highlights historic buildings

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

The local museum wasn’t the only history found in the Marion Public Library recently.

Save Our Stories (SOS), a local historical preservation organization, highlighted buildings around Marion that hold historical significance Thursday, awarding examples of excellence in historic preservation and naming six historic buildings in need of restoration. 

The buildings SOS hopes to help recover include the House of Worship for All People, the First Friends Church, the Mecca Club, the Marion Coca-Cola Plant, the Grand Hamburg and the BPOE building.

The House of Worship for All People is a Samuel Plato building that has since been updated “with a great deal of love and care,” said Bill Munn, Grant County historian and SOS president. It is still an active church and could easily be restored.

Munn described the First Friends Church as being in “dire shape.” It is owned by a group out of town that tried to start another church. The Marion Public Library has Samuel Plato’s original blueprints for this structure.

The Mecca Club on 4th and Gallatin streets was formerly an old style men’s club. “It’s a lovely building and still in pretty good shape inside,” Munn said.

The Coca-Cola plant is “lovingly” being used as a warehouse. Munn says the current owner is taking care of the building and has been cooperating with SOS on potential restorations.

The Grand Hamburg was formerly the Grand Theatre until it burned down and became a restaurant afterwards. “It’s just waiting for one of you to start a hamburger business or something,” Munn said.

The BPOE building was another fraternal organization that gained popularity throughout the years. It also used to be home to Marion’s TV station. 

In a surprise announcement, Munn also told attendees Thursday that Stan and Lydia Wiseman, owners of Brenda’s Dream B&B, have gifted the building at 917 S. Adams St., commonly called “Ginger Lee,” to SOS. 

SOS also recognized historical buildings that have been taken care of or hold great potential.

These buildings include Bobb’s Block, also known as the Wolfe building, 123 E. Third St., CSA and the former Marion National Bank. Though none of the owners were present Thursday, they will receive plaques made from slate roof pieces of the historic Jay House.

“Things are starting to work,” Munn said. “Marion is a place we all love and want to see recover as much as possible.”

Luke Anspach, a design professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, opened the presentation by explaining his involvement with Marion’s restoration. Anspach has been working on a project called Brickworks where he creates accurate sculptures of historical Marion buildings out of LEGOs. 

Some of these sculptures include the Coca-Cola Plant, the Spencer Hotel and the PCC & STL Depot.

Anspach said he was inspired by LEGOs as a way to replace feelings of negativity and hopelessness with a more positive narrative.

“I tried to view Marion like a tourist,” Anspach said. “It really opened my eyes and reframed how I view the city.”Anspach said he took a page from Milton Glaser, who created the infamous “I heart NY” slogan and logo. Anspach hopes that portraying Marion in a fun light will bring back some of its spark. He and his sculptures will be traveling to Indianapolis for Indy Design Week 2019.