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Horner Building Facade Preserved During Demolition

The Horner Building at 625 Columbia Street is being demolished for the new Public Safety Building in Downtown Lafayette. However, the historic facade is being preserved, brick by brick.

Posted: Jun 2, 2021 7:38 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Demolition is beginning on the Horner building at 625 Columbia Street in Downtown Lafayette to make way for the new Public Safety building. However, the historic Facade is being preserved brick by brick in a compromise between the city and the Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission, despite the Horner building being outside the local historic district.

When the Public Safety building opens, the re-constructed facade will be for small commercial use. Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski says the city wants to preserve the entire building, but this was the best outcome for both parties.

"We feel like it's a good compromise between if we could have saved the whole building or just getting rid of it all together," Roswarski said. "This is a good compromise and I really think people are going to enjoy the way it looks."

The ultimate goal would be to preserve the entire building. However, given the needs of the Public Safety building, that simply wasn't possible according to Lafayette Assistant Director for Economic Development John Collier.

"We decided that really there wasn't a good way to build the (Public Safety) building without taking that building down," Collier said. "So we said at a minimum can we salvage the historic facade."

To preserve the facade, each brick is being taken out individually, placated, and stored in an off-site location. When it's time to rebuild, it will be done from the same bricks piece by piece. Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission Vice President Sean Lutes says the Horner building comes from a unique time in Lafayette's history.

"So the Horner Block building was built in the 1920's and that was around the time the automobile really started to take off in Lafayette," Lutes said. "You started to see the establishment of more of these kind of auto-street-car suburbs."

Lutes says keeping the facade beats losing the whole building.

"Saving a facade or saving a portion of a structure is certainly a much preferred alternative to losing the entire structure, especially in a case where like the Horner Block building, the facade is where a lot of the building's architectural significance is," Lutes said.

Mayor Roswarski believes the city has reached the best solution possible.

"We think it will actually make the overall garage look better, it'll give some people a chance to start some little businesses, and you know we did as much as we could to save as much of the building and that history as possible," Roswarski said.

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