CROWN POINT — Amid the dust and peeling paint lies a bright future for the arts in Northwest Indiana.
Though it has sat vacant for decades, the Nurses Home at 2323 N. Main St. is set to become a cultural hub for the fine and performing arts in the near future.
The road to seeing the renovation through has been long, but there is light ahead, said Gloria Tuohy, CEO and artistic director of the Indiana Ballet Theatre.
For years, Tuohy has advocated to turn the 20,000-square-foot, Georgian-style building into a Classical Arts Centre. In the 1930s, the building housed nurses who worked at Lake County’s tuberculosis sanatorium.
In February 2017, the Lake County Board of Commissioners voted to deed the three-story building and its 1.7-acre grounds to the ballet company.
Now, Tuohy hopes to see the first phase of work, which includes some demolition and lowering the floor for a theater, underway as soon as possible.
As of Friday, Tuohy said she is waiting for the new building design to be approved by the state. The initial design for the Centre was completed by an architecture firm that has since closed.
The new company working on the project has completed work on Wrigley Field and plans to shave $2 million off the project by reinforcing the existing floors, Tuohy said.
“They came in and viewed the building and said we can save this building. We don't need to take the roof off and take all the insides out," Tuohy said. "They are redoing the drawings to save the building completely, and so it will look exactly the same. So we're keeping the historic landmark part in intact.”
Once complete, Indiana Ballet Theatre will call the third floor of the Centre home, with the second floor to be occupied by the South Shore Arts and likely other artists.
The first floor will include a black box theater, a reception area and a tea room or eatery that includes outdoor seating.
Though work still has to be done, Scott Crumrine, a member of IBT's executive board of directors, said some repairs have been made.
Thus far, many of the building's windows have been repaired and storm windows have been installed. Window wells have been repaired, the exterior has been tuck pointed and the roof overhauled, Crumrine added.
Once phase one work begins, Crumrine said a portion of the first floor will be lowered to house a stage. The black box-esque theater includes seating from the now-shuttered Star Plaza Theatre, Crumrine added.
"You could have dance recitals in here, you could have piano recitals in here, all kinds of other things that you could have in this little theater," Crumrine said while standing in the space for the new theater recently.
When it comes to the basement of the future Centre, Crumrine said there is space for prop and costume storage, as well as dressing rooms.
Crumrine said phase one of the project is slated to cost $550,000, with the entire project to cost $3 million after factoring in work that has already been complete.
To donate to the project, visit charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/help-create-a-cultural-hub-for-the-arts-in-nw-indiana.