Proposed classical arts center needs more time to complete renovations

2013-04-20T23:45:00Z 2013-04-22T00:20:05Z Proposed classical arts center needs more time to complete renovationsSusan Erler susan.erler@nwi.com, (219) 662-5336 nwitimes.com
April 20, 2013 11:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | With a 10-year deadline approaching, organizers will appeal for more time to transform an 83-year-old donated building into a classical arts center for Northwest Indiana.

"We're on a precipice," said Gloria Tuohy, founding artistic director of the Indiana Ballet Theatre. She is also the lead organizer of efforts to restore a former nurses' dormitory in Crown Point for use as a regionwide arts center.

The building was donated to the Indiana Ballet Theatre in 2003 by Lake County Board of Commissioners on condition it be improved significantly within a decade.

"July 15 is the 10-year mark at which we're supposed to be significantly done," Tuohy said. She plans to approach commissioners in May to ask for an extension.

About $250,000 in repairs have been made to the building so far, of an estimated $3 million of work that is needed, Tuohy said.

Major projects last year included the installation of a new roof and restoration of 74 windows, Tuohy said.

The circa 1930 building for years housed nurses who cared for patients of the former James O. Parramore Hospital, a county tuberculosis sanatorium in Crown Point. It was vacant and neglected since the 1970s.

That didn't dim Tuohy's vision of the Georgian Revival style structure reborn as a building abuzz with performance and class rooms, a small theater able to be reconfigured as a reception hall and other amenities, all in a setting of green lawns, gardens and sculpture.

The Indiana Ballet Theatre would be one of several arts-related organizations to rent space in the completed building, if plans come to fruition.

Tuohy is convinced it will happen.

"I don't give up easily," she said.

To help raise money for continued work on the building, a charity event is planned in October with a 1930s theme to commemorate the building's 1930 opening.

"We're reaching out," Tuohy said. An ongoing effort seeks donations in return for a dedication on a window plate in the name of an individual, family or business.

A two- to three-year plan for future work is being prepared, Tuohy said. "Hopefully, (commissioners) will give us an extension."

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