(ORLEANS) - Salem's Temple & Temple Construction crews are cleaning up the rubble following the demolition of an old landmark building on the north side of Orleans.
Roger Moon of the Times-Mail reports that the building has been in Orleans since the 1920s, according to Orleans Clerk-treasurer Robert Henderson and housed the White Castle meat processing plant during the 1980s and 1990s. The building was vacated at least 15 years.
The site is at the corner of Maple and Adams streets.
The lot belongs to the town of Orleans, and after it is cleared - likely by mid-spring - is expected to become the site for the Orleans Fire Department. The department now is housed behind the Orleans Town Hall on Price Avenue.
Henderson said the building originally was the Orleans Creamery and has operated under various owners throughout the years, primarily for the processing of dairy and poultry products.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the site is in the nationally recognized Orleans Historic District.
But Henderson stressed the historical significance of the structure had changed.
"The building had been altered, remodeled and added on to. The historical integrity of the original building had been greatly compromised throughout the years," Henderson said.
He said, however, that the historic nature of the structure had factored into the demolition steps. "We had to go through a process. ... I was sensitive to it (the building's history)," Henderson said. "Historically, that building was sentimental to a lot of townspeople ... to the people who worked there or had family members who worked there."
White Castle determined in the mid-1990s the building no longer served its needs. "We were able to get White Castle to stay on in Orleans. ... So the town worked with them to give them some incentives." White Castle built a new production facility in the southeastern part of the town.
"It was for sale for years and years and years with no success," Henderson said. "They (White Castle leaders) approached the town about the property and they ended up (essentially) donating the property. For $1, the town purchased it with the idea that we would have to remodel it."
But, as time passed, the building's condition deteriorated.
"It had set empty for years and years. There wasn't any choice the town had but to remove the building," Henderson said.
Working through Indiana Region 15, Orleans secured a grant to pay for razing the structure. The town now is in the process of seeking grant money for building a new fire station.
Henderson said the fact the site is inside the historic district means a new building will have to complement the character of other buildings in the district.
It's also possible, he said, that some features from the old building will be incorporated into a new structure if one is built. Some original period lighting fixtures and glass building blocks are among them. "Those were removed and preserved, as well as the original front doors. ... We have them, and maybe some of those elements can be preserved in the new building," Henderson said.
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