Happy New Year! It is my great privilege to wish Evansville Living readers good tidings again. Thank you for sharing an interest in our city and the people forming this community. Those are the ties that bind us. We’re grateful for our city for connecting us with you.
As we roll into 2022 with the challenges of the past two years still very much with us, Evansville has much to look forward to. The end of 2021 brought the city a good deal of optimism, as well as anxiety, as we witnessed four extraordinary developments.
On Nov. 21, a few seconds before 7 a.m. the former Old National Bank Tower, known also as 420 Main and more recently Fifth and Main, was imploded and brought to the ground in a two-story heap of rubble. Todd and I watched the implosion from a few blocks away, just outside the exclusion area, on Main Street. It was a sight to see. Like so many of you, we had a history with the building. Growing up, I loved to visit the “Main Street Walkway” (our failed Downtown pedestrian mall project, closing Main Street to traffic). I was impressed with how the bank tower soared above the street. Todd had an office on the 10th floor in the early 1990s. We took advantage of the Petroleum Club’s offers to attract young professionals and joined, enjoying many sunsets from the 18th floor after work.
In this issue, we say goodbye to this old friend, the tallest building in Evansville. Our editorial team, Managing Editor Jodi Keen and Staff Writers Dallas Carter and Riley Guerzini collected a range of stories about the implosion, the building’s surprising roots, its tenants and people, and the Petroleum Club. I hope you enjoy the feature, beginning on page 40.
On the heels of the 420 Main implosion, and with plans for redevelopment of the site not firm, the city received the great news that it would be awarded $50 million from the state in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative funds. The $50 million will leverage a proposed $814 million for dozens of area projects, including riverfront redevelopment.
The good news continued Dec. 17 when the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville announced a $34.2 million investment by the Stone family, already the namesake of its Downtown Evansville campus. According to the IU School of Medicine website, the Mary O’Daniel Stone and Bill Stone Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine–Evansville will fundamentally alter and improve the standard of care for people with bipolar disorder, and dramatically increase access to psychiatric care for the children and adolescent youth of Southwestern Indiana.
Tragically, amid the good news our neighbors to the south in Western Kentucky have suffered tremendously. More than 1,000 properties were destroyed and a record-tying 76 deaths have been reported so far in connection with the storm system that moved through the commonwealth late Dec. 10 and into the early hours of Dec. 11. The violent long-track tornado produced severe to catastrophic damage in numerous towns, including Mayfield and Benton (in the Land Between the Lakes area), Dawson Springs and Bremen (much closer to Evansville; just an hour south) and Bowling Green, where so many students from our area attend Western Kentucky University.
Across the Ohio River, we were spared. The effort from Evansville to provide critical aid to these communities has been staggering. Yes, staggering — and that is because the West Side Nut Club stepped up with massive cooking and cleanup efforts in two trips, first to Bremen and a week later to Dawson Springs. Departing from Evansville with police escorts were large caravans of cars, trucks, and heavy equipment filled with people ready to cook for thousands and work very hard. In a Dec. 20 post on Facebook, the club thanked the hundreds of volunteers who helped: “It started with someone saying they had a smoker to cook meals and another saying they have a chainsaw and it ballooned to over 100 members strong helping.”
For me, the Nut Club’s effort exemplifies the spirit of our city — the ties that bind us.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor