- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - One of the oldest buildings with ties to Elkhart’s recreational vehicle legacy may eventually be torn down.

While the move is only preliminary, the city of Elkhart is looking at the possibility of demolishing the old Schult Warehouse at 1830 S. Main St.

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, city officials took a first step when the redevelopment commission approved plans to hire a grant administrator to research the issue and apply for federal funding to help cover the cost of demolition.

The massive three-story gray building includes about 120,000 square feet and is still used as a warehouse, Barkley Garrett, director of economic development for the city, told The Elkhart Truth (https://bit.ly/1mw5EaL ).

Tax records list Dimension Holdings LLC as the owner and indicate the entity is up to date on tax payments, which total about $6,100 per year, according to Elkhart County records.

Even though the building is still being used, it has numerous broken windows and appears to be in disrepair. Much of the building is enclosed by a chain fence that has barbed wire at the top.

City officials have talked with the owner previously, and if funding would become available, discussions about acquiring the land and demolishing the building could ensue, Garrett said.

A $3,000 contract with Mendenhall and Associates, a grant administrator from Arcadia, Ind., calls for the company to research the issue and begin applying for federal grant.

The building’s history dates back more than 115 years.

Al Hesselbart, considered a historian of the local recreation vehicle industry, said he believes the building was constructed in the late 1800s and first became used as a travel trailer manufacturing facility in 1936 when Wilbur Schult and his father, William, transitioned from a retail business on Jackson Boulevard to a manufacturing operation on South Main, where they changed the name to Schult Trailers in 1936.

After World War II, Schult quit making travel trailers and began manufacturing mobile homes, Hesselbart said.

“It was still a trailer factory, but just slightly bigger trailers,” Hesselbart said during a phone interview from his winter home in Florida.

Prior to that era, the building was believed to have been the home of Noyse Carriage Co., which made light “vehicles” at the turn of the turn of the century and at one time employed about 150 people, according to an online book called “A Standard History of Elkhart County.”

Darrin Miller, who owns Schult Warehouse, was snow plowing the driveway behind the building Wednesday afternoon, but declined comment.

The building is north of a vacant lot that is for sale and a new O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store, which opened last year.


Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com

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