By MARGARET L. WILLIS
About a dozen residents gathered to witness the last moments of the long
life of the Porter Town Hall Tuesday. Dozens more drove by for a glimpse of
the event, while some couldn’t bear to watch and stayed home.
The emotions of those at the scene were like those of relatives sitting a
death watch over a long-lived loved one.
“It’s very disheartening,” said Dana Graves, of the Historic Landmarks
Foundation of Indiana.
“It’s unfortunate there was nothing more we could do,” Graves said, noting
the initial grant for research and application for listing the building on
the National Register of Historic Places.
Such registration can become meaningless when government officials refuse to
support the intent, she said.
“It’s really a shame,” when a building is lost “in spite of the community
support there is here,” Graves added.
She said there seems to be a national “tear down trend,” in which many
special structures are being lost. She said a beautiful old home, the Foster
Mansion, was lost in Elkart recently and that the Gary train station is on
the organization’s top ten most endangered buildings list.
“It’s tearing away at the fabric of the community,” she said, noting that
Porter especially has a small number of public buildings.
“This is a hard hit for a small community,” Graves said.
She added that the building was still sound and that renovation costs were
manageable. “Most rehabs cost less than a build new process,” she added.
Town board member Jenny Granat and her daughter were among the crowd.
Allison, 6, chanted “Don’t you dare, don’t you dare,” just prior to the
first swing of the jaws of the wrecker. Once it had begun she burst into
“It’s a wrong that can’t be righted,” Allison’s mother, Jenny Granat, said.
She added that residents who had tried to speak in favor of preserving the
building had been gaveled down at public meetings, as she herself has been.
“You have no voice in Porter,” she said. “There has been no open honest
discussion about this.”
Some of the tear down proponents were also on hand, including town council
member Jim Menn, who stood watching on the lawn of the Police Station.
Sherrill Newman, who lives directly across the street from the town hall
site was visibly upset.
“This is just terrible,” she said, tears tracking down her face.
Newman’s wooden sign pleading the Town Hall be spared was draped in black
Granat and Newman documented each stage of the destruction with digital and
video cameras, finding moments of relief when the building seemed to resist
being torn down.
At 1:20 p.m., when a falling brick broke a hydraulic line on the wrecker,
Granat said “She’s fighting back.”
Naomie Tavernier and Snook Pisowicz stood by, alternately crying, hugging
one another and angrily denouncing the current town board members who voted
to tear the building down.
“We won’t forget who did this,” said Pisowicz.