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The ARCHIE awards

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


The purpose of Fort Wayne’s ARCH organization (ARCH stands for Architecture and Community Heritage) is, according to their mission statement, to advocate for the protection and preservation of historically and culturally significant assets and historic places in Fort Wayne and Allen County.

But “historically” and “culturally significant” doesn’t necessarily mean, say, an impressive monument like the Lincoln Tower (that’s not in any danger of going anywhere). It can mean a house. Or a neighborhood. Or any structure that represents something rare or even unique to the area.

In an effort to honor outstanding restoration efforts and raise awareness of what they do, ARCH asks for the public help with two things. The first is the annual ARCHIE Awards, which have been around since 1977. The second is the community’s Most Endangered Structures, a list that since 1992 has cataloged the architectural treasures, local landmarks, and beloved sites in Allen County — even the ugly ones — that are in danger, for whatever reason.

“The ARCHIES recognize the good work that people have done in preserving Allen County’s built environment,” says ARCH’s Executive Director Michael Galbraith. “Sometimes it’s in private hands, some time it’s in governmental hands, sometimes it’s in residential or commercial hands.”

Galbraith, who took over as ARCH’s Executive Director earlier this summer after Angie Quinn left to start her won business, explains that ARCH has different categories of awards, including single-family restorations and multi-family restoration.

As an example of a single-family restoration, Galbraith cites one of last year’ winners, a home in the Southwood Park area where the people had removed all the vinyl and restored all the windows, and re-installed the decorative porch columns that they found in an historic photograph.

“It’s similar for a multi-family restoration,” he says. “Typically, it’s a bigger scale when you’ve got the larger, grander homes of the 19th century that are used as apartments.”

“But giving out different awards like that helps us differentiate the scale of the some of the projects. We gave an award last year to the Bass mansion, which was this multi-million dollar project, a once-in-a-lifetime restoration of this historic, iconic building here in Fort Wayne. But if you’re restoring a house… you don’t often get to that scale.”

ARCH’S “Endangered” list has been around since 1992. “Those are structures that we believe in imminent danger of losing from whatever threat,” Galbraith says. That threat could be a major public works project — the Brookview neighborhood was put on the “Endangered” list a few years ago after the State Street project was announced — or it could simply be a structure that has fallen into disrepair from neglect or vacancy.

And some of the sites that become part of ARCH’s endangered list might be considered a little less romantic than a tree-lined neighborhood or a log cabin. “We’ve had things like vintage road sites and signs, like the Scott’s cornucopia or the Humpty-Dumpty sign on Decatur road,” says Galbraith. “Those are threatened by the fact that they represent a commercial area that’s not really viable anymore. They defined Fort Wayne for many, many years, but some of the businesses they represented are gone.”

The “Endangered” list is a good way to bring attention to some of these threatened structures. “Sometimes, there will be something on the list that’s languished there for years, and then surprisingly, it will be re-habbed,” Galbraith says. “For instance, when the thousand block of Broadway, one of the people Grieder some of the news releases that came out about our endangered structures.

“So, when you bring attention, and sometimes that moves people to action. That’s the best way we can help preserve some of these structures, by saying that if you stop some of the ‘bleeding’ in terms of the building getting wet or deteriorating, sometimes you can ‘mothball’ a building so that it can be preserved, even if it’s not you, even if it’s somebody who comes along a few years down the road.”

Nominations for the 2011 ARCHIE Awards and the Most Endangered list will be accepted until September 30.

You can send suggestions to ARCH at 818 Lafayette Street, Fort Wayne, IN, 46802.
Or by e-mail to ARCHfortwayne@gmail.com
Or on Facebook.
For more information, including a list of 2010 winners and the Most Endangered List, visit archfw.org

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