Price Dropped to $20k to Preserve Historic Temple

By Sara Barker  Article shared with permission of KPC Media Group. 

Sep 26, 2019

LIGONIER — First, it was priced at $59,000. After a year on the market, the Ahavas Shalom Reform Temple is down to $20,000.

It’s all in the name of finding the right buyer and putting money back into the community, Indiana Landmarks Director Todd Zeiger said.

“We had a price that the library was hoping to get for the building, and we’re slowly working that down to try and maximize the taxpayers’ money back to the library,” Zeiger said.

The Ligonier Public Library, which currently owns the temple, chose Zeiger to sell the property. After Indiana Landmarks has listed it for a year, the building still sits on a 160 feet by 70 feet lot between historic homes on Ligonier’s Main Street.

Inside, the pews have been removed from the 2,100 square foot structure, but large original stained glass windows remain in pristine condition.

It currently operates as a part-time museum for the Ligonier Historical Society, even though the land is zoned residentially, and holds items and documents dating the history of the city.

Whoever buys the property can convert it into what they like, within reason.

“We’re still working with the library to find a buyer that would be sympathetic to the building,” Zeiger said.

Some ways to use the space but still respect its history and architecture would be to use it as a home, an office or an Airbnb, all of which Zeiger said interested buyers have proposed.

Interest in the building hasn’t dried up, contrary to what the reduced price might suggest. Zeiger said he was still receiving emails from potential buyers this week.

Plans fell through previously, Zeiger said, because of a number of reasons.

“We’ve had a number of parties look at it from around the country,” Zeiger said. “There’s interest in the building. It’s just finding the right match.”

Even without a buyer right now, the temple is protected. Indiana Landmarks prevents a potential buyer from parting it out or tearing the structure down and building new.

“We’ll find someone to buy it at some point. It’s just been a matter of what’s the magic number that someone’s willing to buy it at given the work that needs to be done,” Zieger said. “We’re not going to let it be demolished.”

While the integrity of the structure is good, it is old, and Zieger said a few repairs need to be immediately made, like a new roof. Gutters, updated plumbing and a fresh coat of paint on the trim are also needed.

“The building is strong,” Zeiger said. “It’s in good condition comparatively.”

Once someone does buy the temple, Indiana Landmarks doesn’t know right now where the historic materials will be housed, since they are owned locally.