News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

January 22, 2014

EDITORIAL: Bright future for Deming

Restoring this gem signals good things for downtown

TERRE HAUTE — Deming Center (formerly the Hotel Deming) has long been a forgotten treasure in downtown Terre Haute.

While the building at the corner of Sixth and Cherry streets has served a useful purpose for the past 30-plus years, it certainly has not lived up to its full potential as a centerpiece for downtown revitalization, residential development and urban living.

Tribune-Star reporter Arthur Foulkes reminded us of this historic and regal building’s interesting and upscale past in a story published last Sunday in our print and online editions. Built in 1913, it served for about 50 years as a luxury hotel, a direct competitor of the more well-known Terre Haute House at Seventh and Wabash. The Deming changed owners a couple of times in the ’60s, eventually landing in the hands of Indiana State University, which used it first as a men’s dormitory and later as a conference center. Ultimately, ISU lost interest in the structure.

The good news about the Deming building is that when it no longer proved viable to the private sector, it was not simply shuttered and left vacant, unlike the Terre Haute House, which stood empty for almost 35 years.

A 1978 project fueled by federal money retooled the eight-story Deming into a subsidized housing unit for more than 100 low-income elderly and handicapped individuals.

Time has since taken its toll on the building, and the Terre Haute Housing Authority decided last year to move the residents into a renovated residential center at the former Warren School. It is now trying to sell the Deming to a developer who will implement a plan to rehabilitate the building.

Last week, Mayor Duke Bennett told the Tribune-Star bids have been received and he anticipates one will be awarded soon. The mayor is clearly excited about the prospect of getting the building into private hands and back on the tax rolls.

So are we. More importantly, we’re encouraged by the potential this grand building holds for possible rehabilitation for residential and/or commercial use.

Not every historic building in every town can or will be preserved or restored. But this one has been and should continue to be. The strong interest from potential developers to renovate the Deming demonstrates that others feel the same way.

A bright future for the Deming means a brighter future for downtown Terre Haute. We’re anxious to see this project take its next steps.

 

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