Hoosier Desk demolition ushers in new era

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Construction-themed goodies, including plastic hard hats, were provided for children that came out to watch the demolition of the Hoosier Desk building to make way for the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center on Monday morning.


JASPER— More than 100 people gathered at the corner of Mill and Third streets to celebrate Jasper’s history and future this morning as demolition began on the Hoosier Desk building.

The century-old building sits on the future location of what has been called the Jasper Cultural Center, a roughly $13 million multiuse project that will bring the Jasper Public Library and Jasper Community Arts Commission under the same roof.

“We’re all excited to see this thing come down,” said Arts Director Kyle Rupert. “It marks a big milestone in this project that’s been going on now for several years.”

Demolition is scheduled to last up to eight weeks with crews working Monday through Saturday, weather permitting.

The library and arts boards hoped to be able to repurpose the Hoosier Desk building, but decided the process would be too expensive. Instead, some materials from the Hoosier Desk building, including Birdseye maple flooring, some beams and fire doors, will be saved for use as decorative material in the cultural center.

Construction is scheduled to begin immediately after demolition with a completion date for the project sometime in 2020.

Gavin Uebelhor of Huntingburg, 5, watched during the demolition Monday morning.

The idea for the Cultural Center began in 2014 when library and arts officials did a walk-through of the Hoosier Desk building. Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz remembers the day well. During his remarks at the celebration, he recalled library staff starting on one end of the building, the arts on the other. As time passed, the two groups worked their way to the middle where they met and decided a collaboration would be doable. From that day forward, the two entities worked together on the cultural center project, which is unique to Jasper.

“This endeavor represents the difference between our community and others,” Seitz said. “I don’t mean in Indiana. I truly mean across the nation.”

The project got the go-ahead from voters in the 2016 election when 60 percent of voters in Bainbridge, Boone-Jasper and Madison-Jasper precincts voted in favor of a $6.5 million property tax referendum that will fund the library’s portion of the Cultural Center over a 15-year bond.

The arts commission will fund its portion through the city’s economic development income tax fund. The project was also awarded $3.4 million in Indiana Economic Development Corporation tax credits which will be sold to garner additional funding.

The Jasper LEADs (library, enrichment, arts and downtown) fundraising campaign has also raised money for the project.

The Hoosier Desk building demolition process began Monday morning.

Jasper residents Jim and Pat Thyen kicked off Jasper LEADs with a $1.7 million matching grant. In honor of their efforts, the official name for the cultural center will be the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center.

Clark is Pat Thyen's maiden name.

“Today is very unique as we take the next steps to create this center for the arts and the library,” Jim Thyen said. “It is an investment in the future of our community. It raises the arts and education in our region, and it continues to enhance the quality of our living. This is truly the beginning of a new day.”

According to concept drawings unveiled during the celebration, a sign that says Thyen-Clark Cultural Center will sit in front of the building. On the building face will be a sign that sign that says Jasper Community Arts on one side and Jasper Public Library on the other side to signal to patrons which side of the building belongs to each entity.

Once the cultural center is complete, the library will move all its operations to the new site.

The arts commission will move its gallery, office and workshop space to the Cultural Center, but its stage performances will remain at the current location, 951 College Avenue.

The building will also include an atrium that patrons will be able to rent for private events, including weddings.

Dennis Moeller of Jasper spotted chestnut wood as he looked over the Hoosier Desk building before its demolition Monday morning. "I had a brother-in-law who worked here at the time," Moeller said.

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