News and Tribune

December 3, 2013

DOCUMENTING HISTORY: Program helps place pre-1963 structure in archives

By CHRIS MORRIS
chris.morris@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Steve Anshutz was on a mission. As part of New Albany’s bicentennial celebration, Anshutz, along with Matt Eidem, encouraged individuals to participate in the building registration program and register their historic or pre-1963 homes or business buildings with the Indiana Room of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library.

When only 25 or 30 homeowners answered the call, Anshutz decided to go to them. He dropped off packets at homes he knew needed to be documented.

The extra effort paid off. Earlier this month, 70 homeowners were given certificates for officially registering their homes with new files for the library for future use. The program was introduced in August 2012 and wrapped up Oct. 31 this year.

“I left over 200 packets on doors,” Anshutz said. “When we started this, I guess I was naive enough to think I would get 200 responses for the bicentennial. We really appreciate those who participated.”

Many went above and beyond when researching their homes by copying abstracts and deeds, and jotting down memories of the building for the permanent file which will be placed in the Indiana Room.

Anshutz singled out a few individuals, including Rick Hardin who documented several buildings, Tom Boehm, Don Smith, Ron Carter and Dianne Schladand.

While it’s too late to be recognized with a certificate, the program is ongoing according to Anshutz, the library’s historian. He said he hopes people continue to document and make files of their pre-1963 homes or businesses so when those homes are no longer standing, there will still be  records of past owners as well as the history of the structure. Also, a person doesn’t have to live in or own a building to complete its worksheet. If it has special meaning, it’s fair game.

“No way are we saying the program is over,” Anshutz said. “We hope more people get on the bandwagon and do it for the good of the building.”

The Indiana Room has folders on some of the historic homes in New Albany like the Culbertson Mansion, but not others. And these documentations deal more with the structure, floor plans and oral history of the buildings.

“I feel like this is a worthy cause,” said Eidem, the library’s archivist. “We have to document the homes now. I commend Steve. He put a tremendous amount of work into this project.”

There also was an “in memoriam” portion at a recent event devoted to the homes or businesses that no longer stand.