AVOCA - MARCH 17, 2023 - The restoration of the 200-year-old Hamer House is now complete. The work included several projects inside and outside of the home.
Photo: A renovation of the Hamer House in Avoca, Indiana will give families on opportunity to stay for a minimum of two days on the 43-acre park in Marshall Township
The Hamer House was built in 1823, the Hamers constructing the two-story home that served as an inn, post office and grocery store over the years. Eventually used as the property manager's home until the property was decommissioned in by the State of Indiana in
Photo: The Hamer House built in 1823 a historical landmark in Lawrence County, Indiana
In 1919 - 1924 the land was purchased by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and part of the area as a WPA project. The home being part of those acquisitions.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources decommissioned the fish hatchery and park in 2013.
Regional Opportunities Initiatives awarded $125,000 which in part was to help with the renovations of the historic two-story Hamer House.
This was the second major renovation since 1925 according to the Avoca Park Board members.
Some of those improvements were for the installation of a septic system, painting of the outside of the home, and finally the renovations to the inside of the home.
Photo: Kitchen area with new stove, refrigerator and other amenities
The septic system cost about $28,000, painting of the home, $10,500 and purchase of appliances $7,500, HVAC installation estimated at $20,000 are just a few of the costs associated with the renovation.
Photo: The dining area makes a nice place for the whole family to have lunch, supper while they stay overnight
Park board president Mike Holmes, Ricky Enochs, and Tony Barrnett gave the Lawrence County Zephyr a complete tour of the home from top to bottom of the rooms that are available for a minimum of two-day stay for couples and families.
Photo: A place to find a quiet place to relax, read a book, or just a conversation with family and friends during the stay
The purpose of the project is not only to restore the historical landmark in Avoca, but the group plans to us Airbnb for families to come and enjoy the 43 acres park, that has trails, civil war cemetery, waterfall and creeks to enjoy.
Photo: There are several extras that make this remodel appealing to guests
The home sat without empty without any repairs, or work done to it since about 2013, therefore the home was in need of some extensive work.
The park itself is in need of some major projects in the next several years, and restoration of the house and making it available for Airbnb, was thought of a way to generate revenue for the park.
It will be available on Arinb, beginning on March 31st, with a cost of $400 a night, $50 cleaning fee and must be rented a minimum of two nights.
A study of the park reveals over $1 Millon worth of needs assessments have been identified in the initial assessment of the park.
Critical needs - $154,730
Important needs - $198,615
Flexible needs - $736,504
Total needs - $1,089,849
The proposed plan is not finalized at this time, but a road map for the township and park board to address the needs of the park. There is still time for the public to have input on the plan, before being finalized. A master plan is required in the State of Indiana to be awarded grant funding.
Marshall Township has adopted a tax levy to township residents for park operations. " This only generates little revenue; we do not get very much money to operate the park. The first year of the tax levy, the Marshall Township Park will receive about $9,100," according to former Marshall Township Suzi Evans, during a previous interview from the Lawrence County Zephyr.
The township maintains a line item for donations for the park, that is strictly spent on the park, and the cumulative fund for the park will start generating revenue in 2023.
Residents thought the park levy would generate approximately $27,000 which would have been a stand-alone fund for the park. However, it was learned the Department of Local Finance and Indiana State Board of Accounts stated the money had to come from township funding.
Jan Kirk is now the elected Marshall Township Trustee and advisory board will be working together to make additional improvements to the park.
The township has maxed out the amount of tax levy for the township. If any more funds were needed it would have to be transferred out of the other funds, which included fire protection, cemetery care, and poor assistance.
" The park fund will cover mowing expenses and a few other things," said Evans.
The park was able to receive Regional Opportunities Initiative Grant funding which will go towards the renovation and needs of the Hamer House. This includes window repair and painting the exterior of the Hamer House to name a few.
The Avoca-Marshall Township Recreation Park also received $40,000 in funds from the Lawrence County Redevelopment Commission with those funds must be dispensed by 2025.
The dam is leaking and will require some work, cost estimates for that are around $500.
The other immediate need of the park is to make it ADA compliant for the facilities such as the playground, Hamer House and some trails for strollers and those with mobility issues to be able to enjoy the park. At this time the Hamer House is not ADA compliant.
Photo: Playground has been recently installed at the park, which is already getting a lot of use
The park board will be looking at ways to generate revenue, seek donations, and apply for grants that will address some of these needs.
A Ham & Bean Supper is being planned on April 29th, and in July a Bicentennial Celebration and Open-House is being planned for the public to see what the money is being used for.
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