Main Street Facade Grant Application

Art Space Comments

Main Street Facade Grant Application

Public Hearing Talk
Delivered at the Vincennes City Hall
March 27, 2017

On March 27, 2017, I gave a talk that Amy and I put together at a Public Hearing at the Vincennes, IN City Hall supporting the Facade Grant Project on Main Street. We felt that this is very much related to art and design as well as historical heritage; we regard architectural features as design! The room was full of interested people from the community.  Many people afterward came to thank me for the thoughtfulness of the comments.

Good afternoon:  My name is Andrew Jendrzejewski.  My spouse Amy and I own Art Space Vincennes and have applied for a Facade Grant. The grant would enable us to fix a condensation problem, restore the windows to a genuine historical standard, and freshen it up for the entrance of the business district downtown.  It’s more about the preservation of the building than it is a business decision.

We have enjoyed living in the historic district at 5th and Perry for 37 years.  Many of the older homes in our neighborhood are grand and true works of art. We love our neighborhood and want to keep it beautiful.   Many amenities are within walking distance, including the gallery we own on Main Street. Since the development of Clark’s Crossing and the accompanying park, we now have a view of the elegant Knox County courthouse.

The architecture of the Main Street area is a significant asset for Vincennes, as many experts have recognized. Main Street is near two other major community assets, the river and the various historical sites that people come to Vincennes to see.  They form a cluster of interest together. Caring for, saving and using these assets can only be good for the whole city.

In 2012 we purchased the Cyrus Allen house at 521 Main Street. We remodeled the inside,  transforming it from an office space to a beautiful art gallery space. We were very economical about it, and emphasized the wonderful cubical spaces inside and the hand-made architectural detail, still there.

We are one of three galleries on Main Street.  Each gallery offers distinctly different experiences that have encouraged crowds to check us all out   Rather than competing with each other, we have cooperated to develop and brand the First Friday Art Walk events during the months from February to December.  These events are aimed to create consistent energy downtown on those particular evenings. Our success, I am told, was a factor for attracting Pioneer Oil to Vincennes. That credit seems a little much, but whether or not this is true, the way the arts encourage business development is a common pattern that we have noticed in other cities across the country and within Indiana.

Art excites interest, and business moves in.

Vincennes is ahead of the game, though. With the grant, we would be catching restoration opportunities before it is too late.  Our chances are much better than other areas where little is left to restore.

We do need more shops that would benefit from being open late. As Main Street improves with the numerous projects planned and already occurring, we hope to attract an increasing number of tourists and locals to visit downtown.  We hope to attract businesses geared toward serving them and their interests. We need boutiques, bookstores, an ice cream shop, micro-breweries and stores that appeal to younger crowds, that would draw people to town.  To create more activity for now, Sara Frens, Director of the Art Guild, Ann Niehaus of Red Skelton Museum, and Shyla Beam of the Tourism Bureau work with InVin to organize events called “Spring and Fall on Main” to coincide with the Art Walks.

This grant application is not just to serve our businesses. It is the community nature of the effort that makes this grant request special and valid.  I feel strongly that the original 30 some applicants and the nine who made the cut this year would agree. They have demonstrated so with the many hoops required on the grant application to assure the state that this is the case.  I suspect that the whittled down list of nine is a test by the state to see if we do meet our community effort. If so, that would open the door for future opportunities to fund those not included this round and other possible community-minded projects. This lays the groundwork for future development of our resources.

Stores downtown have faced difficult times as each big box store comes to Vincennes and Internet commerce becomes increasingly popular. These factors have been the ruin of many towns in America.  Vincennes is rich in a variety of assets that can keep our community attractive, interesting and viable.  We must adjust our businesses on Main Street to become something the Internet and big box stores cannot do.

For this project, then, it’s not just about the money. More importantly, it’s about place-making, recognizing the beauty and potential of our heritage and creating one for the future. It is about working together as a community.  Former President John F. Kennedy adopted and frequently used the aphorism “A rising tide lifts all boats”.  Every small advance we each make individually to our community environment benefits the whole community.  It demonstrates civic pride. Fortunately for us all, there are many great individuals willing to put their imagination and resources on the line to prove it.  Hopefully, if we do get the grant, there will be others who will see that our intentions on Main Street will work, that it will help us all.

Thank you kindly for the opportunity to share our thoughts about this important project.

Have your say