This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, February 23, 2009


In January I wrote about commercial buildings that were for rent here and here. Since then I have found a few more, plus some buildings that are either for sale or just sitting empty.

Across McKinley from Saint Augustine's Church is this large house that once had a beauty salon in the porch. The space is for rent and the whole building is for sale.
Further along the block to the north is an old gas station that is for sale. It has been a long time since this was a gas station. I know that it has been used by one of the car dealerships to park cars and trucks, but I do not recall what else has been in here.
Further north and a couple blocks off the highway is a huge industrial building that was renovated last summer. I saw some "for lease" signs then, but there is nothing there now, and it seems to be empty. What was in here in the past? Was this part of the Northway complex?
Getting back on the highway and going north, there is an empty store for rent with the sign Dance Magic on it. I do not remember ever hearing of Dance Magic. I think this used to be Shanley's. I recall that Shanley's sold lawn and garden stuff, and then dabbled in pool service. I think there was a tattoo business in there not too long ago. The business next door is Shelley's Heating and Cooling.Returning to downtown Rensselare, there are two empty spots in the building behind Hoover House Furniture.
In addition to office 3, shown below, the spot that Meridian Title Corporation used to occupy is for rent, and the price on the window says that the going rate is $550 per month. The same name is on a spot for rent in College Square, and I cannot find anything that says it is still alive. Did it start here and move to College Square, or did it start in College Square and move here?
Downtown on the bricks along Van Rensselaer are two empty spots, but I do not see any for rent signs on them. Any one remember what has occupied these stores in the past?
The area north of the railroad tracks is a mystery to me. On the east end there are a number of city buildings for recycling and utilities. But to the west of that are strange and unknown buildings. North of Walnut there is half a block with a building and an assortment of equipment that is for rent or for sale. I have no idea what this space has been used for.
Here is the lot from the north side.
A bit further to the west is half a block on the south side of Walnut that is for sale. I have seen people in here doing something. I assume that at one time this whole area was kept alive by the railroad, but now that the railroad only hauls long distance, much of the economic activity that used to be supported is gone. If you know what all the buildings are used for in this area, or what they were used for in the past, feel free to comment.
I am sorry that I have mostly questions and very few answers today. However, I will close with an update. The old Schumacher building has a new tenant, How About That. How About That is the name of a trucking company owned by Ron Kasparian, who is a very recent graduate of SJC. He was unusual as an undergraduate because he already was running a business. Now that he does not have to bother with classes, his business seems to be rapidly growing despite the tough economy. Good luck, Ron.


reMark said...

Pretty sure the gas station went defunct in the late 1980's. I remember it being operational when I moved to town in 1986, but not long after it closed its doors. About the time that gas stations had to replace their fuel tanks they went under.

The building you mentioned was part of the Northway complex, but they did not remodel it. I can't remember who did it. I had great hopes because they did such a nice remodel.

Dance Magic is a dance studio that is mainly in Monticello. They tried to branch out to Rensselaer two or three years ago. They did not open up again this year. The Prairie Arts Council Dance Studio has absorbed quite a few of their dancers. Previously, Jungle Tattoo had been in the building.

The end spot on Van Rensselaer was the long time location of the late Alan Dickinson Appraisal Company. Next to him I thought was a bail bondsman place, but I can't be for sure since I never had to use it!

Good luck to Ron Kasparian (note spelling. it is correct). I also had him as a student in school. He and his fiance will do well. TImes may be tough, but product still has to be hauled to where it is sold.

I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

My name is Leonard Horn. I'm an owner/opperator that is leased to Ron Kasparian at How About That. In first meeting Ron, I wondered how this young kid could possibly know anything about trucking, but after sitting down and getting to know him, found him to be well versed, well educated, with 2 masters degrees (that he will brag about from time to time), and I don't blame him. After over a year of working with Ron we have become very good friends and I do enjoy working with him. Good Luck in the future.

30-year refugee said...

i remember the service station across the street from st. A's. in the late 70s you didn't have vending machines in every school across the country, and it was a privilege to have a "pop" on friday night. there was a vending machine outside that service station, and i distinctly remember purchasing a can of soda from it a few times. it shouldn't have been that thrilling, but it was.