What can you do with a once grand historical building that’s no longer in use and sits in the middle of downtown? The graduate historic preservation studio at Ball State, led by Assistant Professor J.P. Hall, has helped Union City, Ind., leaders come up with some answers that will benefit the community for years to come.

Students researched the viability of the adaptive reuse of the Kerr Block Building and neighboring structures on the corner of Pearl and Columbia streets in Union City. The BSU Department of Telecommunications initially reached out to the historic preservation program in regards to this building after a meeting they had with local stakeholders about moving the local public access station into the space. It was a perfect scenario for the studio, i.e. historic building, historic downtown, supportive community partners and a known end-use, which sometimes can be the hardest thing to figure out.

The building now being dubbed “The Junction,” a historic reference to the four railroads that once intersected the town, would not only house the proposed KISS-TV station but also accommodate a computer WiFi lounge and a retail space for Union City Junior/Senior High School sports team gear.

It is my hope that our initial investigation will assist the city in pushing it forward, exploring future opportunities, and igniting some further potential.

J.P. Hall, assistant professor of historic preservation

The students provided the city with information on the historic and architectural elements of the building, a detailed conditions assessment, and design recommendations for spaces within the building. Their proposal included full color renderings and interior and exterior design layouts that allowed members to envision the potential and scope of the revitalization needed for the building’s first floor and basement areas.

I am very happy to report that the city of Union City has received the grant from Rural Development to acquire the Kerr building in Union City.  J.P. Hall and his students did a phenomenal job on the research, planning, and presentation of this building. Their foundational efforts aided in a truly significant milestone being reached, which paves the way for the collaborative efforts of Ball State’s preeminent telecommunications department and KISS TV of Randolph Eastern.

– Chad Spence, Mayor, Union City