$500,000 to Restore Historic Drexel Hall
Washington, D.C. – Senator Richard Lugar and Congressman Pete Visclosky secured $500,000 today to restore a historic building at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer for senior-citizen housing.
Drexel Hall, constructed in 1888 as Saint Joseph’s Indian Normal School, is being considered as housing for Saint Joseph’s alumni who want to take an active role in the life of the college. The housing concept could not move forward until the building received funding to stabilize its roof, windows, and interior courtyard.
“I am pleased the Congress provided these revitalization funds for the Drexel Hall project,” said Lugar. “This is an important and worthwhile effort for the college and for Rensselaer. I commend local leaders for their initiative, and I appreciate Congressman Visclosky’s work in the House to secure funds to rehabilitate this historic structure.”
“Good housing opportunities for senior citizens and the preservation of our historic treasures are two very important issues for the people of Northwest Indiana,” Visclosky said. “I will continue to work in the future to secure federal funding for projects that benefit our senior citizens and preserve our history for future generations.”
As a member of the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Visclosky secured the funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 Veterans Administration-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations conference report passed today. He thanked Senator Lugar for working together with him to guide the funding through the Senate.
“Without the support of Senator Lugar, I could not have secured this funding,” Visclosky said. “By working together across party lines, Senator Lugar and I have funded a worthwhile project, and I thank him for all of his help.”
The project stems from a study of the building commissioned by Saint Joseph’s College, the Historic Preservation Association of Jasper County, and the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. The
113-year-old building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant since 1978 and is threatened by urban sprawl and demolition. Several Native American tribes also support the efforts to preserve the historic landmark due to its place in Native American history.
The building was used from 1888-1896 to house and educate Native American boys from Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, but it closed due to a decline in federal funding. The Society of Precious Blood, which operated the school, donated it to Saint Joseph’s College in 1937, when it was renamed for Mother Katherine Drexel, who funded the school. It remained a dormitory until it was closed in 1978, and it has been slowly deteriorating since then. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.