By BOB SHRALUKA
"Don't it always seem to go
"That you don't know what you've got
"Till it's gone
"They paved paradise
"And put up a parking lot"
Those lyrics from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" back in the day always seem to say a lot. A lot of lot!
So applause, please, for the Decatur branch of the Adams Public Library system for taking a onetime paradise (wealthy family's home) and converting it not into a parking lot but a green space. A garden type of green space.
Wow! Someone is taking valuable land — given its location, this land could fit into that category — and making it green rather than concrete gray. A garden near the library and the Service Complex, at the edge of the downtown.
Save some applause, too, for First Merchants Bank, which is donating the land to the library. That's two for two: a bank generous enough to its community to give away a parcel of land and a group of library officials deciding to take it and go green.
The word going around for several weeks said the bank was going to give the land to the county to be used for ... yep, a parking lot for the Service Complex. Then when it was heard the library was getting the space ... well, surely the library was going to use it for additional parking, right?.
Two of city's finest...years ago
Isn't it ironic — and sad, really — that two of the once-premier homes in Decatur are in such a state of disrepair at the same time.
The city, through its cleanup campaign now in its second year, is attempting to do something about the onetime Niblick and later Schindler property at the corner of Jackson and Second streets. Enough said about that one for now since people are living there.
The home on the corner of Jefferson and Third streets isn't as bad, but it's not good and has been deteriorating over the last few years. Some have speculated that birds and other critters are residing there now.
A huge house, as is the one at Jackson and Second, the home soon to be demolished by the library was once owned by one of the community's wealthier families, the Stoners. For years it was one of the city's showplace homes.
Its last owner, Richard Roudebush, died a year or so ago and the home reverted to the bank.
First Merchants didn't want the property and all its looming problems (the city had been mowing the yard), bank President Dean Fuelling said, so it began looking around. Before long, the library board had itself a nice corner spot.
"It should be a nice place when its done," Fuelling said of the pending garden. "I hope people appreciate it."
Union school goes down
Another part of Decatur-area history has gone down: the onetime school building at the corner of 700N and 600E in Union Township.
The brick building, well over 100 years old, sat on the property owned by Scott and Karla Marbach and is now in a large pile of rubble there.
"They lost the roof and one side of the building in a storm," Union Township Trustee Brad Alberson said this week. "It's a shame, really. I wanted to look around and see if we could find some money to save it, but they felt it was unsafe after the storm and wanted to take it down."
"Like I said, it's a shame. We need to remember where we came from. But it was on their property and they wanted it down."
Alberson said he thinks the building dated to 1877 or 1888.