News From Terre Haute, Indiana


March 20, 2011

Downtown progress leading to razing of historic WTHI-TV and radio building

TERRE HAUTE — From garment factory to broadcast building, the WTHI-TV and radio building in Terre Haute is closing in on the final days of its rich history.

The building, a three-story fixture on Ohio Street for more than a century, is expected to be torn down sometime in the next 12 to 15 months. The building is being razed to make way for a parking lot for a new three-story office building planned for nearby 925 Wabash Ave.

“There’s some wonderful history associated with the building,” said Rod Garvin, director of operations at WTHI-TV and an employee at the 918 Ohio St. location since 1974. “There’s some rich history there.”

According to Vigo County Historian Mike McCormick, the building was constructed in 1906 in the footprint of an earlier structure that burned the year before. It was first used as a garment factory for Stahl-Urban Co., one of the most innovative and successful clothing makers anywhere at the time.

After a strike in 1936 and amid widespread labor difficulties, Stahl-Urban Co. left the building and moved most of its operations to Mississippi. Other garment makers used the factory for the next several years before WTHI-TV and radio moved into the building in July 1954.

“It kind of makes me sad to think about [the building being razed] because I used to do broadcasting there,” said McCormick, who wrote about the history of the Stahl-Urban Co. in his book, “Terre Haute: Queen City of the Wabash.” McCormick, who was a color announcer for WTHI radio when the station carried Terre Haute Phillies baseball games, was working for WTHI when the business moved from a former location on South Seventh Street to the “new” building on Ohio Street.

Renovating that structure and bringing it up to code, including meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, would cost more than the new $5.7-million building being planned for 925 Wabash, said Paul Thrift, whose development company, Thompson Thrift, is constructing the new facility.

“We did look at renovation of the [WTHI] building,” Thrift said. “We just determined very quickly into it that it was not economically feasible. It would actually cost more than the new construction, and you would still be bound by current safety and ADA” requirements, he said.

Still, for those who have worked in the old structure, the WTHI building holds a lot of memories.

“It’s a really historic building,” said Martin Plascak, a well-known radio news broadcaster for WTHI from 1975 to 1995. “At the time, I thought the studios were very good there.”

Current employees of WTHI radio and TV also have many fond memories of the old edifice, but also said they look forward to having a new home.

“I think I’ll be shocked” by having new equipment and a new facility, said Susie Dinkel, news director/midday anchor for WTHI-TV. “I don’t think a lot of people are going to know how to act. We’ve used duct tape for so long.”

Among the more interesting recollections associated with WTHI-TV’s operations is probably Dinkel’s first experience as a live news anchor in the building. At the same time she was reading her teleprompter for the first time, a fire was reported in the building’s basement, she recalled. Although most of the building’s employees were evacuated, the news crew continued to broadcast live.

It was a real “deer-in-the-headlights” moment, Dinkel recalled.

On the radio side, Barry Kent, a recent inductee into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in Nashville, also has enduring memories from 918 Ohio, a place he has worked for the past 28 years.

“It’s going to be really strange not pulling in here at 4 a.m. every morning,” Kent said. Both of his children were born during the time he has worked for WTHI radio, and he has seen many changes in the technology of radio broadcasting over the years. When asked what he’ll remember most about the old building, which he believes was never well-suited for a broadcast facility, Kent said he will recall the people with whom he’s worked and the top-rated radio product they have been able to produce.

“There have just been a lot of good people that have come through here,” Kent said. “A lot of good broadcasters.”

Several well-known and successful broadcasters got their start working at WTHI. They include Phil Jones, who retired from CBS News in 2002 and who is a member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Well-known Indianapolis news anchor Howard Caldwell, another member of the Journalism Hall of Fame, worked for WTHI as news manager in the early 1950s. And Betty Chadwick, a nationally recognized journalist, was the only female chief TV photographer in the country while she was working at WTHI.

“There were a lot of notable people that went through there,” McCormick said. Others included Joseph Benti, a well-known CBS news reporter, and Jerry Van Dyke, comedian, actor and younger brother of Dick Van Dyke.

One aspect of working for WTHI that apparently also will disappear with the old building is the close collaboration between WTHI radio and television, once owned jointly by the Hulman family. The two organizations, while still sharing a building, have had different owners for the past several years. With the closing and expected demolition of the WTHI building, the two entities will be going separate ways.

“It was an ideal situation,” Plascak said of the close TV-radio collaboration. “I liked that relationship.”

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • MET 070914 GARDEN 01LARI.jpg Plentiful harvest

    Along the southern bank of Otter Creek near Clinton Street, across the street from North Terre Haute Christian Church, some rocky soil has proven to be fertile ground for new seeds.

    July 12, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • MET 071014 GARDEN 01DIEMER.jpg Meeting need for fresh foods

    There’s something about watching a zucchini go from seedling to soup that is satisfying for Jean Diemer.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • MET 071214 60 YEARS.jpg Celebrating 60 years of pride at Hulman Field

    The buildings may have changed, and the mission has certainly changed, but the pride remains the same when those celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard came together Saturday at Hulman Field.

    July 12, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET071214 treasure sign.jpg Treasure-hunters forced in doors

    Rain on a Saturday morning can be a big bummer for yard sales.

    July 12, 2014 5 Photos

  • Tank wiring said to be cause of oil-field fire

    An electrical short has been blamed for a Friday night fire at the Pinnacle Exploration oil field on Fruitridge Avenue south of Hulman Street.

    July 12, 2014

  • MET071114  St bens ellis.jpg Annual St. Ben’s community festival kicks off

    The St. Ben's Community Festival kicked off Friday night and continues from 5 p.m. until midnight today.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 071114 DELISH GREENE.jpg Adding to the mix

    The mix of local food choices will get a fresh stir in the near future, as a café opens a second location, a pizza place moves downtown and a national chain sprouts in two more spots.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET071114 guard bennett.jpg Shift from jets to intelligence

    Loud, impressive fighter jets once zoomed regularly across the sky in Terre Haute, their roars drowning out the sounds of televisions and telephones all around the area.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos 2 Stories

  • MET 071114 MANN P.C..jpg Candidates’ views clash over more education testing, vouchers

    Indiana needs to change direction to improve education, said Democrat Jim Mann, who will face incumbent Rep. Robert Heaton, R-Terre Haute, in a rematch race for Indiana House District 46.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET071114bad check.jpg Fraudulent checks with an extra ‘t’

    A Terre Haute woman who received a large check in the mail this week wants to warn others that though the check looks legitimate, it is a scam.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Truck, van collide, stopping some U.S. 41 lanes for an hour

    Northbound traffic on U.S. 41 south of Terre Haute was blocked for about one hour Friday because of a two vehicle crash.

    July 11, 2014

  • council mtg 013.JPG Mayor: City will not file bankruptcy

    The Terre Haute City Council took well more than  an hour to ask questions and discuss the health of the city’s finances with top city officials in a special meeting Thursday night. A few councilmen expressed grave concern about the financial picture, while Mayor Duke Bennett said things were improving.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • State official threatens prosecution of city leaders who talk about audit

    A state official has threatened to pursue the prosecution of city officials if they violate a confidentiality agreement signed last month.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET 071014 181 02EXPO.jpg ISU, 181st Intelligence Wing show off capabilities at expo

    Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments

    An agreement has been reached to keep surplus military equipment rolling into rural fire department bays in Indiana and 47 other states.

    July 10, 2014

  • united way.jpg UW kicks off pilot campaign

    Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071014 181 HILL.jpg Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential

    Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Stunt performer scheduled to be at Wigwam

    A celebrity stunt man named Jim “Crash” Moreau is scheduled to perform at Terre Haute’s Wigwam Skate and Event Center on Saturday.

    July 10, 2014

  • Rain barrels offered for sale

    The Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for 55-gallon rain barrels.

    July 10, 2014

  • Ash.jpg Tips lead to meth lab bust

    Two people were arrested after police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab Thursday in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET070914 house exterior.jpg Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie

    Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Detour ahead

    A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 barrels.jpg MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers

    We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • City Council to take up city finances tonight

    The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.

    July 9, 2014

  • Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement

    Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges

    Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle

    A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.

    July 9, 2014

  • Free carwash for law enforcement

    Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 voice four.jpg Hitting a high note

    A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 070814 STORM STAUNTON.jpg Clay County residents clean up debris, get power back

    Several power outages still affected hundreds of Duke Energy customers on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after storms and strong winds swept through west-central Indiana, leaving a swath of damage in the Staunton, Brazil and Center Point areas.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Bull Run Comes to Middle America Raw: Divers, Snorkelers at Undersea 'Concert' Israel Widens Attack As Gaza Death Toll Rises WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Netherlands Beats Host Brazil 3-0 to Finish 3rd Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters Raw: Brazil Fans Cry After World Cup Loss Raw: Militants, Israelis Exchange Rocket Fire
NDN Video
Cellphone Video Shows Assault Tracy Morgan released from rehab month after crash LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News