Howe mansion placed on endangered landmark list

May 1, 2019

A mansion on the Howe Military Academy campus is a state landmark and in jeopardy, according to Indiana Landmarks.

Built in 1875, the John Howe Mansion has peeling paint, cracked masonry and interior water damage from a holey roof, the nonprofit preservation organization said in releasing its annual 10 Most Endangered list Monday evening. Neither a phone call nor an email seeking comment from the academy was immediately returned Tuesday.

Other landmarks needing attention include two churches, a hotel and a county courthouse in such communities as Richmond, Indianapolis, Paoli and Winamac, according to the list.

The roundup can be educational, act as an advocacy tool and spur fundraising to save a place, Indiana Landmarks said.

Multiple problems : such as abandonment, neglect, dilapidation, obsolete use, unreasonable asking prices and insufficient money for repairs : typically threaten the sites, the organization said.

“Every listing comes with significant challenges. In all cases, when an endangered place lands on our list, we commit to seeking solutions that lead to rescue and revitalization,” Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, said in a statement.

Of the 139 Most Endangered sites listed since 1991, 85 have been restored or are no longer in jeopardy. Only 16 have been demolished, Indiana Landmarks said.

The Howe Mansion was built for John and Frances Marie Glidden Howe and is the last Second Empire-style house in LaGrange County. It mostly held special events and housed historical items for the academy but hasn’t been used much in recent years, Indiana Landmarks said.

The private boarding school announced in March it will close after the current school year, ending a 135-year run. Ongoing budget shortfalls contributed to the decision, officials said.

Indiana Landmarks said the closure leaves the future of the academy’s historic buildings : including the Howes’ 1840 Greek revival homestead, a 1902 chapel and several mid-century modern structures : in limbo.

“As the most fragile of the academy’s landmarks, the Howes’ mansion and homestead need immediate attention, and along with the rest of the campus, new purpose,” the organization said.