This recent offer by the Barmeses may be the last hope for the old county poor farm — not the last best hope (to borrow from Lincoln), but the last hope, period.
The building where so many unfortunate souls once lived out their meager existence is, itself, not long for this world.
It needs restoration — and a new lease on life.
We assume the offer by the “ghost hunter” to take over the 140-year-old Victorian structure on South Hart Street Road is still on the table.
Adam Kimmell has been wanting the building for a couple of years, although we haven't heard much from him of late.
As he explained to the county commissioners, once he had possession of the property his goal would be to turn the former poor farm into something dubbed the “Knox County Poor Asylum,” where he would host paranormal investigations, flashlight tours and ghost hunts — events he claimed would draw enthusiasts like himself (and their money) from hundreds of miles away.
That has just never really suited us as a proper way for this building to end up, what with its long history of service to the community.
Granted, until recently there hadn't been much in the way of an alternative — other than to let the building continue to deteriorate until it would no longer be possible to repurpose it, with demolition the final step
Now come the Barmeses, Andy and his wife, Angie, with a proposal to return the old poor farm to useful — and meaningful — service to the community.
They pitched to the commissioners this week their idea of making it a non-profit hospice house — County Farm Hospice House Inc.
“The structure has one foot in the grave, and we're going to bring it back to life,” said Andy Barmes, a contractor.
Angie Barmes is, appropriately enough, a nurse.
A skilled contractor and a health-care professional, just what the building needs.
Easing the burden of those marking their final days on earth would be a far-better use of the old poor farm than its becoming a draw for strangers to town hunting the spirits of those whose time on earth was marked by great hardships.
The building, listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures, actually only served as a poor farm for 40 or so years, but its use has always in some way served a need in the community.
Here is to hoping that legacy will continue.