Two Harrodsburg groups seek preservation grants

August 15, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Two organizations have applied for a $250,000 Renaissance City grant from the state.

Representatives of James Harrod Trust for Historic Preservation and Wilderness Trace YMCA made presentations Thursday to members of Harrodsburg First.

Harrodsburg First is the city's Main Street program, and its board will make a recommendation on the grant application Aug. 26 to Harrodsburg City Commission.

Dr. David Dolen, who spoke on behalf of the trust for the restoration of Dedman Drugstore on Main Street, and Carrie Perkins, the YMCA's executive director, who is seeking funds to help restore the old armory on College Street, were friendly rivals during their presentations.

"We want your choice to be the one that will bring the money to Harrodsburg," Perkins said.

While the armory was built in 1941, it is historic in large part because the Mercer County men who ended up in the Bataan Death March came through that building on their way into serving their country in World War II.


Many of those men did not return home, and very few of them are alive now, but the building is a tribute to their service and needs major work, including plumbing and heating and air conditioning.

The state Heritage Council has sent guidelines to the YMCA for preservation of the building.

"The building is too rich to see it fall apart," Perkins said. Asked if $250,000 would pay for all the work needed in the building, she replied, "We'll complete what we can complete."

She said the YMCA had to turn children away from the day camp this summer because of lack of useable space. The building is owned by the city, but some city departments have recently moved out of its basement, and that space can be used in the future.

Dedman Drugstore has fine cherry cabinetry, and the trust was able to purchase the building before another owner might remove the cabinets, Dolen said. Members of the trust thought the building needed some restoration, but they soon found it had serious structural problems that had to be fixed before it could be used.

Much of the work has been done, but the rear of the building still needs structural work. If the trust receives the grant, the money will be used to repair and restore the ground floor to be used possibly as a soda fountain and sandwich shop. The trust's members hope to restore the upstairs themselves and use if for their offices and a preservation library.

The $250,000 grant would complete work needed on the ground floor. Dolen said the money would be enough to get the building open to the public, including an area to sell Kentucky crafts.

The grants will go to Renaissance cities classified as gold or silver; Harrodsburg is a gold city. A city can only receive one grant, and the maximum is $250,000 and it cannot be divided. Amy Sparrow, Harrodsburg First's executive director, said the City Commission will make the final decision on which application will go to the state. Deadline for the applications to reach Frankfort is Aug. 29.

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