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Mural honoring rail heritage at risk in Logansport

Uncertain ownership endangers crumbling mural honoring Logansport's railroad heritage

Posted on Aug. 15, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 15, 2014 at 10:07 a.m.

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) — Area residents are seeking a way to save an artistic landmark in Logansport’s downtown.

The Iron Horse train mural has overlooked the corner of East Market and Third streets from the east exterior wall of Leather or Knot Antiques for about the past decade. But it’s now crumbling and cracking.

Logansport Building Commissioner Bill Drinkwine said he was contacted by representatives of Leather or Knot and the abutting Superior Auto lot of the mural’s current condition about three weeks ago.

Drinkwine told the Pharos-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1t6mNYN ) the mural was painted on a concrete-like base over the wall. A lack of maintenance has led to cracks crossing the work and pieces breaking off at the bottom, he continued. Moisture has built up within these cracks and has started to cause damage to the wall itself.

Meant to honor Logansport and Cass County’s railroad heritage, the mural was originally funded by a $3,500 grant from the Cass County Community Foundation, according to an article published Aug. 27, 2003, in the Pharos-Tribune.

A 2004 article about the mural from the Cass County Arts Council, now the Cass County Arts Alliance, describes the project as being driven by it, the Logansport Art Association and Logan’s Landing. Funding was supplemented by additional grants, fundraisers and patrons.

Rob Frey, then an art teacher at Logansport High School, also memorialized the former annual local Iron Horse Festival with the mural.

Drinkwine said he is trying to find documents that determine who is responsible for the mural, if anyone.

“At this point, we have a physical wall owned by an owner, then we have a mural applied to the wall and the Art Association responsible for that grant completion,” Drinkwine said. “I don’t know who owns the mural.”

Several local organizations are also involved in the effort.

“At this point, we are strictly in information-gathering mode,” said Becki Harris, executive director of Logan’s Landing, a nonprofit representing the city’s downtown. “Obviously as a downtown organization we are interested in trying to keep that mural from crumbling to the ground.”

After it is determined who is responsible for the mural, permission would need to be granted before the necessary repairs are funded and carried out, Harris continued.

“It seems to me that that’s the first step — is there something in writing that says such and so is responsible for the maintenance and repair?” she said. “It kind of seems like there should be. If there’s not, then it would seem like we would know moving forward that that needs to be addressed in this type of situation.”

Teri Hawes, a board member of the Cass County Arts Alliance, said she too looks forward to finding a way to preserve the mural.

“It has significance to the community,” she said. “It’s public art.”

Drinkwine said it may take between $15,000 and $25,000 to fix.

“I don’t think any of us have $25,000 to put into it,” Hawes said of the local nonprofit organizations, adding that collaboration will likely be necessary. “As the nonprofits in town, we can’t just say, ‘We’re going to do this to your wall.‘ There has to be open, frank, inclusive discussions, I think, between all parties involved. Nobody can really decide what to do until that happens.”

Harris said the next step would be determining how to fund the fixes.

“If some particular organization is there and the issue is they don’t have the funds, then it’s simply a matter of finding how to help them raise those funds,” Harris said. “If there’s no responsible party, then that’s kind of a different can of worms.”

Drinkwine said the final step will be coming up with a plan to preserve it to prevent officials and nonprofits from having to solve the same problem in 10 more years.

“My point of view is I believe the community needs to come together to determine do we want to save that large mural and then if we do want to save it, how do we create a mechanism to fund the repairs and then fund a maintenance plan to protect it for future years,” Drinkwine said.

Drinkwine added he hopes to hear back from local groups interested in preserving the mural by the end of this week to determine a time to meet in the near future.

If no solution is reached, Drinkwine said he would have to seek a recommendation from the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety.

Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com


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