IS IT TRUE? February 22, 2012 “Vintage Buildings Dying a Slow Death”


IS IT TRUE? February 22, 2012 “Vintage Buildings Dying a Slow Death”

IS IT TRUE that the Alhambra Theatre has stood as a monument to the ineptness of local government for over 50 years now?…that grants to do insignificant little jobs at New York City prices have not stopped the decline?…that board of directors after board of directors of well meaning but unfunded and incapable people have not stopped the decline?…that executive director after executive director has not stopped the decline?…that self congratulatory parties where wines, cheeses, and champagne have toasted the latest overpriced government handout have not stopped the decline?…that FRONT DOOR PRIDE has not stopped the decline?…that forming an Art’s District has not stopped the decline?…that offering to give away a beautiful older home in need of much work has not stopped the decline?…that the micro-efforts of local, state, and even federal (as in earmarks) have not stopped the decline?…that unless the right people under the right leader with the vision, the discipline to add some details to the vision, the management talent to make it happen, and the money to execute that vision come along the decline will continue unabated?

IS IT TRUE that the 50+ year decline of the Alhambra has in a very real way symbolized the City of Evansville for five decades?…that both the City of Evansville and the Alhambra Theatre have so much potential, so little performance, and are clinging to the past like an aging dancer whose body is broken and whose will to exist continues being tested?…

IS IT TRUE that the solution was always there in plain sight?…that the solution was and is called private investment for a worthy endeavor?…that he Alhambra Theatre like Roberts Stadium has many suitors with untested ideas but no one willing to pony up the investment dollars to bring life to the suitors dreams?…that the failure of the Evansville region to establish formal investment entities has not only strangled the entrepreneurial aspirations of many of our best young people, but has delivered the death blow to many aging but useful and even potentially prosperous venues?

This Was Meant to be a HOTEL!!!
IS IT TRUE that Evansville has seen many vintage properties fall into disrepair to the point that demolition was the only feasible answer?…that the list is long and many of these deaths were premature or unnecessary?…that the list of the dying before our eyes includes the Alhambra Theatre, the McCurdy Hotel, and scores of Victorian residences?…that perhaps with all of the new people in leadership positions that 2012 will be the year that pride comes alive in the City of Evansville?…that pride starts with each person cleaning their own front yard and resolving to never ever litter again?

IS IT TRUE that we invite our readers to make comments about their favorite venues that are among the dead and dying structures in town?…that we also invite success stories like the Victory Theatre that is once again showing its age after an expensive restoration back in the 90’s?


  1. I would agree on the lack of funding being a real problem, but I think you’re a little overboard to claim that “incapable people” have not been able to turn this around. Not sure what you use as your litmus test for “incapable”, but it appears to me that some very capable people have led the effort in the recent years (executive director and otherwise) and made progress, but without funding (as you point out) and a real “champion” of investment, the most capable individuals can’t create the Phoenix out of the ashes.

    I have no skin in the game, so you’re not insulting me… but I am familiar with at least SOME of the efforts with Alhambra and the intentions of a few of the people who’ve diligently dedicated time and effort to try to revive it. Just caution you with the holier-than-thou rhetoric towards individuals who’ve mostly donated their own time and effort to try and make something better in the community.

    I DO agree on other points about it being up to ALL of us to pick up litter, have a little pride in our own front door, and get enough of the community to pick up much more from an activist standpoint, or venues and beautiful, historical buildings that carry so much charm and ability to add to the community (that would disqualify Roberts!) will slowly drift away as well as what’s left of the young talent here.

    • The Alhambra is a problem that has been in Evansville’s face for over 50 years with no complete success. As much as some of the individuals may have good capability in some areas the output of 50+ years of group effort is an empty theatre in need of maybe $1M worth of work. The overall effort of the last 50 years is an abject failure. Perhaps we have capable people who have taken on a task that the inept local government and the local investment community have sacrificed. Then perhaps the Alhambra is just beyond functionality. If it really is a “Bay of Pigs” type of abandonment that will never really have a chance of being used that is a shame and an indictment of local practices.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with the editor. If I recall correctly, the story on the new board leadership for the Alhambra said something about interior repairs being completed by the end of the decade. Seriously? Another 8 years without any real activity happening INSIDE the building.

        It seems like this city is full of people with good intentions in leading various efforts toward progress, but most are content with year after year of discussion with no significant action. The Alhambra should have been fully renovated within a few years of the ‘arts district’ designation to the area.

        For those who want to say “why don’t you get involved,” I don’t even try anymore because most of these groups are like little clubs of people who simply want to feel important about being ‘in charge’ of something. Good ideas and forward motion are not taken very seriously.

  2. Trying to save everything for all time has a name and a TV show. It’s called hoarding.

    Save some of our old buildings, but let the ones that cannot find useful function be taken down. The number of old theaters, fire stations, houses, stores and businesses is staggering. They won’t all be saved and it’s time to stop beating ourselves up when a decades long effort is abandoned.

    We have saved the Old Courthouse, Jail, Post Office, Victory just to name a few. Old libraries are still being used, businesses have located in many old historic buildings. At some point you have to realize that the market for historic buildings is full and saving the next one might come at the expense of another historic building in use.

  3. Downtown Evansville needs hotels. Why aren’t we out promoting the McCurdy Hotel to hotel chains and other interested parties? Talk about location-location-location! It is such a beautiful facility.

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