- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) - A 140-year-old building nestled in the heart of Main Street in Vincennes is at risk of being lost forever unless its owner and both local and state historic preservation groups can come together to save it.

It’s been five months since city officials condemned the Heberd Building, 320 Main St., and asked its tenants, Legends Family and Hobby Games, to leave.

City officials claim a rear exterior wall is separating from the main building, built in 1873, and poses a risk to passers-by as well as anyone inside the building.

However, owner Tim Ellerman, a local contractor, has said he’s made the proper temporary repairs and that any concern for the public’s safety is unfounded.

Still, a final resolution, all agree, is yet to be found.

“We are very concerned because we consider this to be an outstanding building with an impressive history,” Judy Kratzner, president of the Vincennes/Knox County Preservation Foundation, told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial (http://bit.ly/1hBQZX3 ). “We don’t want to see it lost.”

The city, the preservation foundation and Indiana Landmarks, the state’s leading historic preservation group, have come together to get the restoration process going.

But all of it has gone on with little, if any, involvement from Ellerman. He says that’s because no one has attempted to get in touch with him.

Months ago, the city inspector, on behalf of the preservation foundation, asked Tommy Kleckner, a director with Indiana Landmarks, to fund a $3,000 assessment study of the building that would outline exactly what needs to be done to make it structurally sound.

Last spring, Ellerman poured concrete footings and installed steel I-beams to shore the failing rear wall up.

City officials say that is only a temporary fix, and not a great one at that.

“I haven’t figured out what (the city) wants to accomplish,” Ellerman said. “That building isn’t going to fall down on its own. I think that’s been proven by the fact that it’s still standing.”

Both Kratzner and Kleckner say the assessment did get underway but, so far, it’s only half complete. Arsee Engineers Inc., based in Fishers, was hired to do the work, Kratzner said, but was only able to inspect the building from the outside.

They weren’t able to gain access to the interior. Ellerman said no one has called him to make the request.

Kleckner said this week that the “next step in the process” would be to get in touch with Ellerman and make arrangements to complete the assessment.

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