Historic building demolished after fire


Lindy Dobbins/WTHR

Indianapolis - 86 years ago, the Chadwick was an upscale apartment building conveniently located just north of downtown Indianapolis. A week ago, it was a creaky refuge for the city's homeless. Today, it is a charred pile of rubble.

The building, which caught fire at about 11 p.m. Monday night, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and landmarked under the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. It served as an apartment building until 2000 but has since stood vacant. A number of neighboring residents and business owners were relieved to see it go.

"There's everything imaginable going on inside that building," said Greg Day, owner of Jarrett Engineering. "I think that being gone is really going to increase the value of this entire quadrant here."

Until the fire Monday night, the building was a haven for those vagrants who could not conform to the regulations implemented at a shelter. Employees of neighboring businesses Jarrett Engineering and the firm of Gresk and Singleton have been disturbed on numerous occasions by squatters in the vacant structure.

"We've had to call police several times for vagrants and for different issues, nuisances, over there," said Keri Gesk.

The Chadwick has been available to purchase for many years with no takers. Local businesses have merely tolerated the building as well as its intermittent inhabitants for years as the cost of purchasing and renovating was incredibly high.

"The cost of renovating that building would just not be feasible," Gesk said. "From what I heard it was going to cost at least $7 million."

In addition to a steep price tag for renovation comes a long list of regulations from the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. The first item on the list is a requirement that the building remain intact.

"There's a preservation plan for the neighborhood that you have to adhere to and in terms of demolition, the only way that someone could tear it down is if there was some kind of health and safety hazard like we're looking at now," said Vice President of Indianapolis Landmarks, Mark Dollase.

As the building is demolished and members of the community eagerly await the number of possible building that will take its place, members of Indiana Landmarks are disappointed that it is gone.

"The Saint Joseph neighborhood has really come a long ways in the past 25 years in terms of its revitalization and it's a real disappointment I guess to see a key building like this in the neighborhood go away," Dollase said. "I think that the Chadwich apartments could have been a really nice sort of upscale housing opportunity for somebody like it was back in the 1920's when it was built."