Passion for Preservation

Taylor Burden brings folklore focus to Indiana Landmarks role

When a young Taylor Burden pondered her future beyond high school, a teacher urged her to consider studying folklore.

It was sage advice. Burden in 2018 received a bachelor’s degree in history, followed by a master’s degree in folk studies from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The Owensboro, Kentucky, native says her new role as director of Indiana Landmarks’ Southwest Field Office is ideal for a folklorist, “because it focuses on connecting with communities, preserving local heritage, and celebrating spaces and places that are important to communities.”

Burden’s work with Indiana Landmarks in six area counties started in December. The job pulls her in a variety of directions, but one top priority is the Hulman Building in Downtown Evansville. The Art Deco-style, 10-story building last year made Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered” properties list and recently was named to this year’s list.

A developer considered the Hulman Building for a hotel but reported the cost was too high. Burden says Indiana Landmarks is pushing for approval of a state tax credit for the historic building because “that is what would make the property make sense for a developer.”

Another Evansville project is the old YMCA gym, also Downtown. Indiana Landmarks has taken title to the gym for two years, with the intent of assisting a developer in putting market-rate apartment housing in the property.

Burden says her role with Indiana Landmarks is rewarding, and as an example, she cites the organization’s Black Heritage Preservation Program. She’s talked with two local church- es about grants that would assist in preserving their history. As a worship leader with Embrace Church in Evansville, Burden says she’s happy to combine her background working with churches and her passion for preservation work.

And, as a side venture, Burden operates a nonprofit called KINDfolk, whose goal is to mesh local culture and traditions with educational set- tings in Kentucky and Indiana. It all comes back to Burden’s background in and passion for folklore.

“It’s given so much color and texture to how I see the world, preservation, and communities,” she says.

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