by Joy Harber
Roann’s Community Heritage preservation group held its annual public meeting at the Roann Public Library on May 13. The meeting featured a power point presentation by guest speaker, Kurt Garner, regarding the town of Roann gaining Historic District status by the National Register of Historic Places on March 20.
“The Roann Historic District exemplifies the development of early Midwestern railroad towns whose growth did not expand much beyond the initial infusion of wealth brought by the railroad, but still maintained its importance as a center for the rural area surrounding the community. The district's architecture is for the most part not high-styled, but scaled to the size of the community. Interesting vernacular types and certain regional details also exist in the district. The district's ties to the early exploration and settlement of the area are also evident in the names associated with the community. The district boundaries, which incorporate nearly the entire community, are also a unique feature and provide a picture of how the community and its significant buildings were planned.“ From the National Parks website
As a result of the preliminary research that was compiled during the National Register process, the town of Roann may now claim an architectural style all its own. Dubbed the Roann Vernacular, the style suggests a simplified version of the Italianate style popular in the mid-nineteenth century. This style is prominent in a great many homes in Roann particularly. It is a rarity that an entire town be placed on the Register. Because the commercial district seems to blend directly into the residential district, it seemed as if listing most of the town on one, historic district would be fitting.
Roann’s Community Heritage took this opportunity to present a historical marker to Barbara Burdge and Masha Haffner in recognition of the Halderman – Van Buskirk farmstead being placed on the National Register at the same time that Roann became a historic district on March 20th. The group also recognized several new businesses in Roann, and thanked them for their support of the town. Jerry and Jan Mills, of Log Cabin Antiques, Mark and Peggy Coppler, of Coppler Red Barn Antiques, and Steve and Nancy Fearnow, of Old Days Old Ways Tack Shop were acknowledged for their efforts. Cameron Huffman spoke of how many small towns have empty storefronts and buildings lining their streets, but Roann’s buildings are full. “This little town is not little”, Mr. Huffman added with a grin. With dedicated residents and business people, Roann’s significance can only grow.
Mr. Huffman also shared details about the Wabash County Quilt Trail and New Olde Towne, which will be located in Settler’s Park, surrounding the Abshire Log Cabin during the Roann Covered Bridge Festival, September 5 - 8. The meeting was well attended by interested community residents and business owners, who continued the restoration and preservation discussions over refreshments.
Prior to the Historic District designation, Roann was home to the following sites on the National Register of Historic Places: the Roann Covered Bridge, The Roann Paw Paw Township Public Library, the Thomas J. Lewis House, and the Stockdale Mill.
Members of Roann’s Community Heritage include Barbara Burdge, Kathie Grandstaff, Holly Kendall, Ellie Draper, Cameron Huffman, and Peggy Coppler. The group is dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of Roann’s cultural and architectural heritage. Those interested in preservation may contact the group at Roann’s Community Heritage, Inc. PO Box 1853, Roann, IN 46974.