By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. — A group of nine women will receive an award from the town of Pendleton nearly 22 years after working to get it designated as a historic town.
The designation helped save many of the historic buildings in the Pendleton area. Pendleton Town Council President Don Henderson said the historic status, granted in 1991, made the town just the second in the state with that distinction. Pendleton was founded in 1820.
Helen Reske is one of the women being honored on Wednesday. She said the women started with the hope of raising awareness about Pendleton’s history in an attempt to curb demolition. Instead, they ended up incorporating and through the efforts of Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement Inc. they have saved multiple buildings from being torn down.
Reske is one of a group of five women responsible with starting the group. Ruth Berline, Loueva Hagemier, Sandi Butler and Zilpha Wood were the others in the group. Four other women will also receive recognition for encouraging those five women. That quartet is Letty Gray, Marilyn Watkins, Maude Ward and the late Charlene Daugherty.
”These ladies transformed our town from a prison town to a historic town,” Henderson said.
Henderson said prior to 1991 all Pendleton focused on was prisons. There was little emphasis on growth and development and very few people were interested in coming to the town, Henderson said.
Henderson, a resident since 1979, has been president for 14 years and said he plans on resigning at the end of the year. He said it’s his goal to honor the women who changed their town before he leaves.
”Recognition for them has been long overdue in my opinion,” Henderson said. “People haven’t understood how significant this improvement was.”
Reske said she sees the award as a result of the town embracing its historic roots.
”It is quite an honor,” she said. “It feels good and I think it means the town is accepting historic preservation.”
One of biggest moments for the group came when they stopped the demolition of the Stephenson building in downtown Pendleton.
On Wednesday, the town will unveil the plaque honoring the women. The plaque will be permanently attached to the building the group saved. Each woman will also be presented with an individual plaque.
Reske said that since the town officially made the National Register of Historic Places people have seemed to take more pride in their town and houses.
More importantly, Henderson said, people are more interested in visiting Pendleton now.
Jo DeWitt, the office manager for Pendleton, said the town has seen an increase in business since the historic preservation effort.
”The town attracts home buyers, business owners and visitors interested in its historic flavor,” DeWitt said. “This effort has impacted the community in a positive way ever since.”
Contact Zach Osowski at 640-4847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go Where: Pendleton Town Hall When: Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m.