News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

August 11, 2007

Historic 12 Points area struggling to survive

But some continue to see potential in the once-thriving area

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute’s 12 Points neighborhood is like a little village all its own.

Called 12 Points because it is at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue, Maple Avenue and North 13th Street — creating three distinct intersections with four corners each — the area has long had its own feel and it continues to play an important role in Terre Haute’s social and economic landscape.

“I love it,” said longtime 12 Points business owner Cecil Tilford, who has operated Tilford’s Variety Store in 12 Points since 1968 and is known to some as the “mayor” of 12 Points. “It’s just like a small town,” he said.

Twelve Points was “hot” when Anita Parkhurst, who now co-owns a business in the neighborhood, was a young girl and would visit the area. Parkhurst, 50, remembers eating Coney dogs in 12 Points and buying candy at Tilford’s Variety Store, she said.

Yet 12 Points also is struggling to stay alive. A large number of vacant and sometimes condemned buildings dot the landscape. Outside several storefronts, the smell of burned wood and plastic from recent fires still lingers in the air.

“12 Points is just kind of a neglected area, unfortunately,” said Jay Jones, owner of the 12 Points Hotel and several other buildings in the area. Jones, who has been active in the neighborhood since 1998, is the landlord for a number of small business tenants and also is an advocate for keeping the historic feel of 12 Points, often using his own money to promote the cause.

Yet Jones, who told the Tribune-Star in 1998 that he hoped the neighborhood could evolve into something like Broad Ripple in Indianapolis, seems a little less optimistic today.

“There’s not a lot of incentive to invest up here,” Jones said. Some of the buildings are beautiful, but much of what he is doing to the historic buildings he owns are just “stop gap” measures, he said. “It’s usually a break-even proposition,” Jones said.

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