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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Downtown Wolcott

I was surprised by Wolcott when I stopped there several weeks ago. A century ago it was a booming little town. What is left of its downtown is much more impressive than what is left of downtown Remington, which today has a couple hundred more people than Wolcott has. From the highway, here is the north side of Market Street.
The most impressive building in the downtown is the one shown below, which was built in about 1900 in the Renaissance Revival style. There is a sign in the upstairs window that says, "E.L. Welsch Dentist X-Ray." I wonder how many years ago it was that there was a dentist office there. The White County Interim Report, which cataloged historic structures in White County, loved this building. (If you want to find this book at the SJC library, the call number is F 532.W58 W48 1994. It does not pop up correctly in their search engine.)
Further down Market Street is a building with an interesting turret. The front of the first story has been remodeled, and there was sign in the window announcing a hearing to have the zoning of the building changed.The south side of Market Street has more buildings than the north side. Most of these buildings were also built around 1900. At the west end of the block is a three story building built in the Romanesque Revival style. A glance suggested that the upper floors were being used as apartments.

On the southwest intersection of the highway and Market Street are two large buildings. Part of the closer one, in the Italianate Style, was at one time the Nordyke Drug store. The further one with the round-arched windows is another example of the Romanesque Revival Style. Most of these buildings appeared to be empty.
Directly across the highway is this odd building that houses Timeless Treasures, which appears to be something of an antique store, but that may not be quite accurate. The White County Interim Report says this was built in the Queen Ann style.
Across Market Street from this building was another old building. It may once have been a grocery store. It seemed to have a financial office in it.If Wolcott ever wants to have an Art-in-the-Alley night, they do have an appropriate alley behind the row of buildings on the south side of Market Street.
Just to the south of the downtown are the railroad tracks. Wolcott is an example of a town that was laid out along the railroad, and the fact that its old downtown is adjacent to the railroad reflects that. Rensselaer is located where it is because of rapids in the river, and its downtown grew up close to the river rather than along a later railroad. Wolcott still has its old railroad depot, though it is no in tip-top shape anymore and probably has not been used for years. According to the White County Interim Report, it is one of only two depots that remain in White County. (The other is in Monon.)
You can see a grain elevator behind the depot, and there are more grain storage bins further to the east (which you can see in the Timeless Treasures photo).

The many empty buildings show that Wolcott once had a bustling downtown. I hope they are able to preserve their old buildings and find new uses for them.

1 comment:

Ed said...

I have to admit that in all my years in Rensselaer I don't think I ever visited Wolcott. They definitely have some interesting old buildings. Wolcott is a dying city according to city-data.com (-8.5% population growth since 2000) as is Monon. My guess is that they are a victim of the urbanization (or suburbanization) of America.