Every year, historic preservation organization Indiana Landmarks publishes a list of ten historic places across the state that they consider to be “on the brink of extinction and too important to lose.” This year’s list of the 10 Most Endangered is just out; see it here.

Two of the places on this year’s list have found themselves in my camera’s lens. Traveling the state’s old roads as I do, I’ve photographically documented historic structures in a growing number of Indiana’s communities.

Mineral Springs Hotel

Mineral Springs Hotel in Paoli, on the Dixie Highway, was built in 1896 — before Paoli had electricity. So the owners built a power plant in the basement to light the hotel, and they sold excess power to their neighbors! Named for the area’s mineral-water springs that were thought to cure all ails, the hotel did big business for many decades. As the mineral-springs fad passed, however, the hotel’s fortunes declined. It stopped taking guests in 1958, although businesses populated its first floor for a few more decades. Today it’s vacant, its roof leaks, and many of its windows are broken. Indiana Landmarks hopes to find someone to restore it.

I visited Paoli during my 2012 excursion along the Dixie Highway in southern Indiana. The hotel sits on Paoli’s delightful square. Read about my visit here.

The Crump

In Columbus, the Crump Theater has stood here since 1889. As you might guess from these photos, this is not the theater’s original facade. Indeed, the Crump underwent three major remodelings in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Its art-deco facade was added during the third remodeling.


The facade is distinguished by pigmented structural glass panels known as Vitrolite.

Columbus, IN

The Crump featured live shows until the 1910s when movies began to supplant them. Eventually the Crump became a movie house, and stayed one until 1997, when it showed its last picture. But by then it was already in deplorable condition with a partially collapsed roof and a non-functioning boiler. The theater has only deteriorated more since then, despite several attempts to save it. The city of Columbus would like to see it saved, and Indiana Landmarks is interested in finding a developer who can restore the building and find a good use for it.

The first two photos are from a 2017 and the third from 2008. Both times I was following the Madison State Road, an 1830s route that connected Madison to Indianapolis via Columbus and was an alternative to the Michigan Road, which ran through Greensburg and Shelbyville to the east. Somehow, I’ve managed never to document my Madison State Road trips, an oversight I must one day correct. Meanwhile, you can see more photos from my visits to Columbus here.

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18 responses to “Photographing two of Indiana Landmarks’ 2019 Ten Most Endangered”

  1. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    Vitrolite! Wow!! Some extraordinary stuff, thanks, Jim. (I had to share this one on my Facebook page)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the share!!

  2. analogphotobug Avatar

    Endangered Buildings really need attention and protection. Cincinnati destroyed a couple of significant buildings when I was a teenager. I’m sure that they regret it now.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Lots of significant buildings have been razed. I think of several in my hometown that are gone and shake my head.

  3. tbm3fan Avatar

    So very American of us. When I was on the European Continent I noticed how the Europeans valued their architectural heritage and did their damn best to save and preserve the building for either continued use as it was or a new use. Here we let the building degrade to such a deplorable condition that the cost to restore far outweighs the value when done so it comes down.

    I was in such awe walking the aisle in Canterbury Cathedral (consecrated 1070) that I really can’t put it into words.Same at many other locations in Europe. Could be simply an old gas works building. Here, it is not so easy to find things dating back to the origins of the country or origins of a city. Shame

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There’s good and bad anywhere. Tradeoffs abound. We’ve traded some of our heritage away, to be sure.

  4. J P Avatar

    I love those facades from the 30s and 40s.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Me too…but I always wonder what lurks underneath.

  5. Dave Jenkins Avatar

    There was a restaurant on the ground floor of the Mineral Springs Hotel where my wife and I would often stop for a meal when traveling between our home in Georgia and my parents home near Bedford during the ’80s,’90s, and the early years of this century.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh that’s cool. Paoli would definitely be on the way as 37 goes right up to Bedford!

  6. Yoshimiparis Photographie Avatar

    there are like that buildings in our respective cities, very old buildings, which one would not like to see destroyed. They have a story to tell again for many years

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have a preservationist’s heart: I want to save them all. Here’s hoping these two can be saved, at least.

      1. Yoshimiparis Photographie Avatar

        I also like old stones, and even ruins (there I speak of castles for example). I find that old stones, old buildings have, like old people, much to tell

  7. DougD Avatar

    Nice stuff, looks like there’s hope unlike the sites on Abandoned America website (assume you’ve seen that).

    My daughter is interested in architecture, and is bothered by too many ugly buildings. If she goes that way in Uni she might try to get involved with restorations and restorative projects.

    Not sure about that Vitrolite, does it hurl Vitriol at you as you walk by?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s hoping Vitrolite hurls nothing as you walk by!!

      Good luck to your daughter. We don’t know how to build beautiful buildings anymore -maybe she can help bring them back.

  8. Sam Avatar

    Great shots of some really beautiful, historic buildings!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have photos like these from all over Indiana – here’s hoping no more of those buildings fall into enough disrepair to be on the 10 Most Endangered list!

  9. vivianann04 Avatar


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