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Sunday, January 29, 2023

A Neighborhood’s New Life

Before the Evansville Living Downtown Idea Home opened to the public in September, Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel noted, “Our hope is that the home at 620 Washington Ave. will be a catalyst for additional revitalization in this historic area, a gateway to Downtown Evansville.”

From Sept. 17-26, more than 1,000 people toured the Colonial Revival residence brought back to life through a partnership among Evansville Living, the City of Evansville, Indiana Landmarks, presenting sponsor Fifth Third Bank, and the Junior League of Evansville. Even before the showcase home opened its doors, Weinzapfel’s wish came to fruition: Indiana Landmarks southwest field office director Stewart Sebree says an undeniable momentum built in the neighborhood.

One of the most notable improvements is visible at 624 Washington Ave., the Downtown Idea Home’s next-door neighbor. In June, Downtown residents Ron and Connie Bosler, retirees who rehabilitate historic properties for rent, purchased the neglected home. The process of bringing it up to code was extensive, but “nothing that couldn’t be done by someone with the willpower,” Connie says. The duplex since has been rented to college students.

The Boslers’ effort shows the kind of TLC that could lift the Washington Avenue Historic District off Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered” list. With rehabilitation projects also underway at 601 and 700 Washington Ave., “we certainly hope we’ve inspired some folks,” Sebree says.

Connie Bosler has noticed more residents of the historic corridor mowing their lawns, picking up trash, and simply maintaining their properties. “Everywhere in the neighborhood,” she says, “improvement is going on.”

The Evansville Living Downtown Idea Home is listed for sale online at www.indianalandmarks.org.

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