TERRE HAUTE —
The past, present and future had just converged at the Crossroads of America.
The moment was made possible by the gutsy spirit of 1920s Terre Haute. Without it, the city would look starkly different.
The community honored native son and major-league baseball pitching great Tommy John with ceremonies last Thursday at Spencer F. Ball Park and the Indiana Theatre. The park opened in the early ’20s, and John played there as a kid in the 1950s and ’60s (the past). The City Parks crew renovated its softball diamond and on Thursday afternoon it was dedicated as Tommy John Field (the present). The upgrades will let new generations of young players compete there (the future).
Shortly after the dedication, hundreds gathered to toast John at a dinner program in the ornate Indiana, which opened in 1922. The event served as a “coming out party” for the early phase of the theater’s renovations, new owner Rob Lundstrom said. The place looked revived, with fresh lights and paint, and a new terrace floor.
Soon, the expensive step of replacing the worn seats will unfold. Special-effects lighting, digital projection (to accompany the way-cool, classic reel-to-reel projector), sharpened audio capability and marquee improvements will follow.
Tommy John noticed the vibrancy, as did his fellow hometowners.
Why invest to turn a 91-year-old theater into an even more flexible events center?
“It’s a project worth doing,” Lundstrom said, standing on the new terrace floor, where guests sat at tables between the balcony and lower bowl seats. “I’m a big fan of Terre Haute’s history. It’s had its rises and some falls. Times have been prosperous and not so prosperous, but Terre Haute is not a second-tier city, and I think it needs a facility that can be a go-to place, that links both its past and its future.”
Thank goodness, local movers and shakers in the 1920s didn’t consider Terre Haute “second tier.” They saw big things ahead for the town. They built with great-grandchildren in mind. The era wasn’t idyllic, by any stretch. Racial injustices separated and oppressed residents. Vices flourished here during Prohibition. Working conditions physically exhausted men and often blocked out women. In the forward to Tom Roznowski’s book about 1927 Terre Haute, “An American Hometown,” fellow author Scott Sanders wrote, “While granting that there is much in our past we should relinquish without regret, Tom Roznowski helps us to envision those qualities we might recover and those we might cultivate in our efforts to create wholesome, humane and distinctive home places.”
We owe a continuing debt to the people of the 1920s who envisioned Terre Haute as such a place. Imagine what the city would be today if those folks expected just a mediocre quality of life in the decades to come.
There would be no Deming Park (which opened in 1922), no Memorial Stadium (1924), no Rea Park (1925), no Terre Haute Symphony (1926), no Zorah Shrine Auditorium (1927), no Woodrow Wilson Middle School (1927), no scenic eastside campus for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (the school moved there in 1922), no Spencer F. Ball Park, no Indiana Theatre. All of those incredible amenities were just grand dreams before the ’20s. Yet, all remain actively used in 2013, far outliving their innovative creators.
Next week, Indiana State University will dedicate a 15-foot-tall, 2,000-pound bronze statue of former Sycamore basketball legend Larry Bird. It took a big-picture idea from a student, Brad Fenton, and six of his friends to start the ball rolling on the project. Their gumption triggered a broader fundraising effort, helped by the ISU Foundation, that eventually attracted an anonymous primary donor and turned the $153,000 idea into a reality, sculpted by local artist Bill Wolfe. Bird left town for a record-setting Boston Celtics career in 1979.
It took 34 years.
The statue will become a destination for thousands for decades to come.
Terre Haute is not a second-tier town, as long as it refuses to be so. The renovations to the Indiana Theatre and Tommy John Field at Spencer F. Ball Park, and the placement of the Larry Bird sculpture at Hulman Center, provide a great gut-check moment for the community and the chance to assess what kind of future awaits this town.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
The past, present and future had just converged at the Crossroads of America.
- Local & Bistate
Purdue shooting leaves one person dead
Tasting their way to a cure
People appeared to be in high spirits Friday inside the historic Indiana Theatre as they gathered for an evening of wine, food and conversation while supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs
Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.
Bosma moves gay marriage ban bill to friendlier committee
Republican House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma sent a bill that proposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a more conservative-leaning legislature committee Tuesday, because it lacked support on the first committee to which it was assigned.
We enter the deep freeze again
If you had to step outside to get your newspaper this morning, you might have noticed it’s painfully cold once again.
Levy redirects school funds
If the new “protected levy” legislation goes into effect later this year, it would mean “a substantial reduction” in revenue for Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds, according to the district’s chief financial officer.
School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana
School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.
More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.
VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board
Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.
Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase
After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.
Same-sex marriage: 4 couples sue state over ban
Four gay couples from southern Indiana sued the state Friday, seeking to force Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state and issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Time to check smoke alarms
Three years after a house fire on South Nine Street in Terre Haute resulted in the death of three people, a Terre Haute grandmother still wonders if the outcome of that fire would have been different if smoke detectors in the home had been working.
Indiana State Board extends president’s contract
Indiana State University has signed up Dan Bradley, the school’s president, for an additional three years of service.
New animal shelter gets welcome boost
The aging Terre Haute Humane Society shelter is not a place for the faint of heart.
4 couples sue Indiana over same-sex marriage ban
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Four couples from southern Indiana are asking a federal judge to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Vigo County Jail Log: March 7, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.
Bill for welfare drug testing in negotiation
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Indiana lawmakers trying to pass a bill requiring drug tests for some welfare recipients say they have passed voluntary drug tests.
Book signing March 7 in Crossroads Café to benefit Success By 6
The book “One Day I Could Be ... Careers in the Wabash Valley,” is on sale now and will be available at a book signing today, March 7, during a First Friday event in downtown Terre Haute.
Groups ask regulators to probe plant’s power woes
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Environmental and citizens’ groups are asking Indiana regulators to launch a formal investigation into problems and delays that have sharply limited the power output of Duke Energy’s $3.5 billion coal-gasification plant near Edwardsport.
Nature trust expands Owen-Putnam State Forest
POLAND, Ind. (AP) — State officials say funding from the Bicentennial Nature Trust has helped the Indiana Department of Natural Resources expand a central Indiana state forest by 84 acres.
Vigo County high school team in FIRST Robotics’ Crossroads Regional
Drivers of remote-controlled robots will match skills, similar to those used in basketball and soccer, to score in the FIRST Robotics’ Crossroads Regional on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Benefit planned for daycare fire victim
Veronica Gray never met 19-month-old Emma Lloyd, but when she learned about the child’s tragic death in a Sullivan day care fire, she had to do something.
Winter’s costs add up for Vigo
While still within county and city budgets, the snowstorms of January and February were more costly than a year ago.
Mayor Bennett threatens veto of consultant funding
Mayor Duke Bennett is threatening to veto a measure before the Terre Haute City Council that would transfer money into the council’s budget allowing the body to again hire a financial consultant.
Semitrailer fire slows eastbound traffic on Interstate 70
Traffic on Interstate 70 was slowed Thursday afternoon by a semitrailer fire just east of Terre Haute.
Tests show Skittles had no unusual chemicals
The Indiana State Health Department has given Skittles a clean bill of health.
No problems reported in early 10-digit phone dialing
Just be grateful you (probably) aren’t using a rotary telephone these days.
Cloverdale woman sentenced to 10 years in molestation/neglect case
A Cloverdale woman received a 10-year prison sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to child molesting and neglect of a defendant in Vigo Superior Court 3.
Youth orchestra performs March 9
Crossroads of America Youth Orchestra will present its "Spring" concert from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 9, in Central Presbyterian Church at 125 N. Seventh St.
Gun stolen by Dillinger gang returning to Nortern Indiana
AUBURN, Ind. (AP) — The FBI plans to return a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun stolen by members of the John Dillinger gang from a northeastern Indiana police station to the department.
Indiana workplace safety agency addressing issues
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman says the agency has cooperated fully with federal investigators who found the agency mishandled complaints, put its inspectors under strict time constraints and didn’t help whistleblowers.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Purdue shooting leaves one person dead