Old courthouse in C.P. hit by money woes

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Old courthouse in C.P. hit by money woes

Postby rock star » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:25 pm

Old courthouse in C.P. hit by money woes

BY KATHLEEN QUILLIGAN
Kathleen.Quilligan@nwitimes.com
219.662.5331 | Sunday, January 18, 2009
CROWN POINT | One of the city's most famous landmarks is having money problems.

The Lake Court House Foundation Inc., which runs the Old Lake County Courthouse on the square in downtown Crown Point, is operating on a deficit for the first time since the organization took control of the building in the 1970s, a foundation board member said.

Martha Wheeler, the foundation's second vice president, said the foundation's budget began operating in the red in the past few months, and the foundation would like to get back into the black.

"I don't know if it's a sign of the times or that people just don't understand what it takes to keep it going," Wheeler said.

She said for the past three months the foundation has been running at a deficit of $1,000 to $2,500 per month.

Wheeler said the foundation, which does receive taxpayer dollars, doesn't have the membership and number of bequests it has had in the past. While the courthouse has a steady income from renting shops on the lower level and offices in the upper levels, it's not enough to cover the expenses of running the building or taking care of a major problem should one arise.

Wheeler said the foundation has considered raising rent but called that a "miserable" option.

"If we have a plumbing problem, it doesn't cost $150 to fix. It's $2,000 or $5,000 because it's an old, old building with old, old plumbing," Wheeler said. "You really have to dig deep to get to the source of the problem."

What happens if the foundation doesn't see an increase in donations? That's a major concern for Wheeler and the rest of the board members, who are trying to think of ways to raise money and get more people to donate to the courthouse.

"It's like living in an old house," Wheeler said. "There's always something that needs attention."

The courthouse was built in 1878 for $52,000 and served as the county courthouse for almost 100 years until the county outgrew the building in the 1970s and built the complex on North Main Street.

While there was money set aside for demolition of the Old Lake County Courthouse, a group of residents formed the nonprofit organization that saved the building. The demolition money was used to restore the building. TO HELP
To donate to the Lake Court House Foundation, Inc. or become a member, call (219) 663-0660 or write to the foundation at P.O. Box 556, Crown Point, IN 46308.
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