As a proud alumnus of Vincennes University (Class of 1972), I commend any effort to maintain the University's relevance in Indiana; however, I view with alarm some current and planned endeavors.
Preservation is a progressive movement throughout our Nation, but was given an underserved onus in our community largely due to early unwarranted denigration by prior editors' misrepresentations. “Progress” might be better served in enforcement of long-standing statutes. This would have prevented the greedy landlords “ramshackle buildings” that will forever be one of the memories that the not-from-Vincennes student victims take with them.
Might not the “French Village” be built on the ample “green space” (already acquired and cleared) that lines Scott Street in the midst of the University campus? What savings would that provide? Another sensible and progressive vision would be an across-the-tracks blend of the rehabilitation of existing Vincennes architecture and the new French Village. This blend would be in keeping with Vincennes' traditional pattern.
The Historic Review Board members have a great opportunity to study these proposals, consult the sage ordinance that empowers them and be the voice of reason in these decisions. The proposed areas of the French Village and Visitors' Center lie within their jurisdiction. I recommend everyone read this wisely-enacted mandate and discover that its purpose is not just to save “historic” structures. The decisions of the HRB will have a huge and lasting impact on our community.
Does the proposed new visitors' center expansion actually encompass the location of the lovely Queen Anne house West of Grouseland? Why does the existence of this home pose such a threat to the university? It adds to the streetscape that fronts the mansion. Will stark landscaping actually enhance that area?
I am in genuine hopes that my concerns will be rebutted by bone fide facts that prove that the planned progress will be successful. We all want the adage of “build it and they will come” to be true; however, once all planned demolition is completed, are the state funds needed already secured? We don't want our community and Grouseland be short-changed when the Indiana General Assembly comes to the realization that our beloved university has seen several years of declining enrollment and denies the funding.
The only past that Vincennes has been “chained to” is a lack of understanding that city planning and preservation have gone hand in hand in the success of many “progressive” cities.
Snyder is past president of the Vincennes/Knox Preservation Foundation Inc.