Winamac Park Board Weighs Options for Park Pavilion Preservation

Winamac Park Board: Jon Chapman, Chris Schramm, President Courtney Poor, Vice-President Brad Zellers
Winamac Park Board: Jon Chapman, Chris Schramm, President Courtney Poor, Vice-President Brad Zellers

Efforts to repair and preserve the Winamac Town Park Pavilion continue to be discussed by the Winamac Park Board. The structure, also called the Octagon Building, dates back to the 19th Century and now is in need of some repairs.

Last month, park board members suggested exploring the possibility of covering the building’s exterior with steel. However, that suggestion is now drawing criticism from members of the Pulaski County Historical Society and others, who fear the change would jeopardize its historical value.

During last week’s meeting, Park Board President Courtney Poor noted the budgetary issues with preserving the building. But he said the town would accept the historical society’s help in obtaining a historical designation from the state, in an effort to pave the way for future grant funding. “If that designation could be granted, I know that probably isn’t a a short process. It’s probably a longer process,” he said. “But in the meantime, if we don’t maybe do something, there may not be a building there to declare as a historical building.”

Town manager and park board member Brad Zellers says the biggest concern is water damage. “A lot of the boards on the outside are rotten and some of them are rotten up higher, but the sill plate itself is fine,” he said. “Just getting rid of some of that water is going to make a huge difference.”

The first step in solving that problem would mean relatively few changes to the structure itself. Instead, board members hope that removing some of the landscaping surrounding the building would fix the issue. However, they’re currently in the process of determining who donated those plants, so that any memorial donations could continue to be recognized.

As far as the building itself, Zellers questioned whether simply replacing the exterior boards in their current layout would actually accomplish the goal of historic preservation. “You know, it’s going to get water in it the way it is,” he said. “You’re up against: you want to make the outside look like it was when it was done, which who knows if that’s even what it was like. There’s only one layer of boards and they’ve got gaps. I can’t believe they would’ve built it like that. The inside – you change to fix what needs fixed on the outside, you lose all those dates and those names and everything that’s carved in there. It’s gone.”

Poor also pointed out that the roof doesn’t appear to be original to the pavilion and questioned whether it would need to be replaced with something more historically accurate, should the structure receive a historical designation. Meanwhile, Park Manager Dave DeLorenzo continues to contact potential contractors about repair costs.