Heart-shaped signs were made and hearts were open as three different organizations walked through downtown Muncie to raise awareness for historic buildings.
Members from the Delaware County Historical Society, Preserve Greater Indy and Associated Students for Historic Preservation "heart-bombed" several abandoned and historic Muncie buildings on Saturday.
Heart Bombing, as described on its Facebook event page, is sending “love letters to historic places, local landmarks, and places both safe and threatened that are important to our communities.”
Derek Tulowitzki, president of Associated Students for Historic Preservation and a board member for the Delaware County Historical Society, said the event is a way to show appreciation for the historical value for the buildings.
“I’ve lived in Muncie for a decade now, and I think for me it’s easy to fall into this cycle where you’re sort of pessimistic and it’s easy to be cynical,” Tulowitzki said. “So I thought, ‘How can we start to raise awareness for some of these buildings that have been abandoned for quite some time but also definitely do not need need to be demolished and shouldn’t be demolished?”
Ashley Danielson, a board member of Preserve Greater Indy, said it came to Muncie to raise awareness of just how badly the buildings are in need of care.
“It's mostly getting the word out that preservation is a really important aspect, not only to community and economic development but bringing people together as well,” Danielson said.
Tulowitzki said this is the fourth Heart Bombing in Muncie. The event started nationwide in 2012 with Buffalo’s Young Preservationists.
The buildings that were heart-bombed this year were Wilmore Apartments, St. Peter’s Rock Church, Temple Beth El, the John W. Ryan House and the gas station at 225 S. Madison Street.
“Some of the structures were chosen because they were architecturally interesting, they have a nice story to tell, they’ve been vacant for quite some time,” Tulowitzki said. “You don’t want to do the same buildings as previous years so you get a list going.”
Tulowitzki said having the buildings in a walkable distance highlighted the positive aspects that preservationists advocate for at a local level.
Kyle Anthony-Petter, a first-year graduate student in historic preservation, said even though it seems “silly” to put up paper hearts, awareness is still important.
“Showing the public how important these buildings are regardless of what condition or shape they’re in, I think is really important for just showing that someone is out there caring about their community,” Anthony-Petter said.
Tulowitzki said that history is extremely important when it comes to preservation.
“History matters,” Tulowitzki said. “Your connection to the past is most told through materiality. So if a building is demolished to a certain extent, that history could be lost with it.”
Currently, the Emily Kimbrough District in East Central Neighborhood is the only historic district that’s locally designated, and giving some historic protections to those structures.
Tulowitzki said that the next steps going forward are to get some of Muncie’s most historic structures to have protections at the local level in place regardless of a property owner.