Randolph County Organizations Honored for Inspiring 3rd Graders to Love Preservation; Musée de Venoge earns award for preservation of Swiss-heritage landmark

Indianapolis (July 26, 2021) – The Community Foundation of Randolph County, Inc., and Randolph County United and Musée de Venoge, Inc., have won Indiana Landmarks’ 2021 Sandi Servaas Memorial Awards, recognizing outstanding achievement in historic preservation.

To instill a love of local history and architecture in its young residents, the Community Foundation of Randolph County teams up with Randolph County United—an economic, tourism, and chamber partnership—to bring every third-grade student in the county to downtown Winchester to tour the historic courthouse and historical museum and interact with first-person interpreters. During tours of downtown, students explore Randolph County history from its early pioneers to its recent automotive heritage at the Winchester Motor Speedway.

At the 1875 courthouse – a former entry on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list once threatened with demolition – students learn first-hand about the community’s spirited drive to save the building and undertake a state-of-the-art rehabilitation that included reconstruction of its long-missing tower.

“Teaching students about history is a living, breathing, often very emotional form of scholarship,” says Missy Williams of Randolph County United. “Third graders are told they are walking up the same staircase that citizens used in 1875.”

Musée de Venoge is a rare example of early French Colonial architecture in Indiana. Constructed in 1828 in a French-Swiss settlement in Switzerland County, the decaying house was targeted by the local fire department for fire-fighting exercises before Musée de Venoge, Inc., stepped in to save it. It took the all-volunteer organization nearly twenty years to restore the structure – now listed in the National Register of Historic Places – and develop engaging and interactive programming providing further insight into the area’s heritage.

Intensive research identified letters of the house’s first occupant, guiding interpretation of the site as the home of a middle-class family of the early nineteenth century. The group created the documentary “To Make a Beginning,” available for sale on DVD, based on the home and letters. They also share short videos highlighting the structure’s preservation and history on their YouTube channel.

“This extraordinary multi-year effort saved an important part of Indiana heritage that could have easily been lost,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks.

As winners of the youth-serving category, the Community Foundation of Randolph County receives a check for $1,000. Organizational winner Musée de Venoge, Inc. receives $2,000. Both organizations receive the original sculpture “No Doors to Lock Out the Past” by Evansville sculptor John McNaughton.

About Indiana Landmarks

Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.

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Media contacts:
Mindi Woolman, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534, cell 317-417-1204, mwoolman@indianalandmarks.org
Missy Williams, Randolph County UNITED, 765-584-3266, cell 765-546-0908, missy.williams@randolphcountyunited.com
Donna Weaver, Musée de Venoge, 812-593-5726, dweaver@waxportraits.com