HSI grants Corydon historic preservation award

Bobby Shipman

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USI’s Historic Southern Indiana awarded Corydon, Ind. a $1,000 grant as the recipient town of the 2014 Community Legacy Award.

Historic Southern Indiana is a community outreach program that annually recognizes a community that has done an “admirable job” in the areas of heritage tourism, preservation and sense of place.

Vi Eckart, director of the Harrison County Public Library, nominated the town with the help of the Historical Society of Harrison County and its president, Karen Schwartz.

The nomination application had to show how a town has accomplished historic preservation, downtown revitalization or restoration, used planning and zoning through billboard or sign ordinances, shared vision as a special place, has a historical society, museum, archives and/or a published history and has heritage-related festivals or other special events.

“We’re coming up on the big celebration in 2016 and everything else that’s going on here in Corydon and trying to get a museum and all of the things that the town has done, we got the application together,” Eckart said in an interview with The Corydon Democrat. “The application said to talk about whatever you want to talk about, but keep it less than four pages long. That was really hard to do.”

The hard work payed off as the application impressed Leslie Townsend, director of Historic Southern Indiana, and the advisory board.

Townsend, who selects the recipient of the award with the help of two board members, said Corydon has an impact on Indiana history.

“We look for sites that embody our mission,” she said.

Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, was founded in 1808.

“In addition to the original capital state historic site, they’ve done a lot of efforts in the town preserving some historic buildings that will be open to the public,” Townsend said.

The site is home to the Harrison County Fair, the oldest fair in the state that has continuously been held in the same location and the Leora Brown School, the oldest standing black school in the state. Downtown Corydon has many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Nine original buildings from the Capitol Period (1816-1825), including the First State Capitol, Governor Hendricks Headquarter, the First State Office Building, the Posey House, the Westfall House, the Heth House, Cedar Glade and the Adams-Payne House, still stand in Corydon.

Corydon is also home to the constitutional elm, which is now just a stump due to disease, here 43 delegates met in 1816 to draft Indiana’s first constitution. Eckart said one of the things that stood out was the collaborative nature of the community and how so many organizations work together on projects in the town.

Previous recipients include Shoals, Aurora, Bedford, Ferdinand, Jeffersonville Madison, New Albany, Newburgh, New Harmony, Orleans, Rising Sun, Tell City and West Baden Springs.

Historic Southern Indiana was created in 1986 to serve the southern 26 counties of Indiana. Its goals are to identify, preserve, protect, enhance and promote the historical, natural and recreational resources of the region. It seeks to implement those goals through programs in historic preservation, history education, heritage tourism, community development and scenic byways.

Internships are available to students in tourism, history, media, marketing and other fields.

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