‘Gem Of A Building’ Seeks New Use In Muncie


In terms of its historical architectural significance, Lasley called it “this unique little 1920s building” whose presence at the corner of Madison Street and Memorial Drive is “a matter of southside pride.”

Bill Morgan, the city’s historic preservation officer, called the structure “a little gem of a building.”

The Maring Branch Library closed in February 1999, shortly before MPL opened the Maring-Hunt Library in a portion of the former Wilson Middle School building just blocks away. (It wasn’t the first time the Maring Branch had faced possible closure; newspaper reports from 1966 noted the library board had discussed closing or moving the branch because of decreased circulation at that time, but it remained in operation until a city-wide overhaul of library facilities in the 1990s.)

Prior to the small library’s closure, however, MPL officials had frequently cited accessibility and maintenance issues with the historic brick building at the southwest corner of Heekin Park.

In 1999, MPL Director Virginia Nilles told The Star Press the building had “been lovingly maintained, but it is antiquated,” with no air conditioning and with old-fashioned radiators, as well as drainage problems, foundation damage, mold, sewer gas and accessibility issues, all of which would have cost too much to repair.

Within a few years, the former library building reverted to city ownership, per the original agreement when it was built. After Maring gave the money to build the library, the city gave the property for it with the understanding that, if it ever ceased to be used as a library, the property would revert to the city, according to Nilles.

Since then, uses proposed for the building have included a police substation, Parks Department offices and even a home for the new Muncie Arts and Culture Council, but none have moved beyond the discussion stage.

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Posted by on Apr 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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