Salamonia Schoolhouse Restoration Symbolizes Community Resilience

October 11, 2023

Nestled in the heart of Salamonia, a historic schoolhouse stands as a symbol of community. While outside observers may underestimate its significance, the schoolhouse now holds deep meaning for the population of Salamonia, representing unwavering perseverance. Over the years, the building has served as a vital gathering place, hosting town board meetings, ice cream socials, heartwarming holiday dinners, and even family gatherings and birthdays.

Despite the ups and downs the town has faced, the schoolhouse has remained a valued hub for the community. First built in 1887, the schoolhouse was the only school for children grades 1-8. As the town transformed and evolved, so too did the needs of the building. That’s why, as part of the READI 1.0 grants, Salamonia was granted funds to restore and update the schoolhouse, ensuring it aligns with the evolving needs of the town’s residents.

“Salamonia is proud of their schoolhouse and its rich history,” said Travis Richards, Executive Director of the Jay County Development Corporation. “About 20 years ago, they undertook a major renovation project. Since then, the town’s budget hasn’t allowed them to do anything outside of basic maintenance.  Now, by combining the town’s ARPA funds, county economic development funds, and READI funds; Salamonia was able to complete a project that improves the building’s accessibility, resolves some ongoing maintenance issues, and helps preserve a building that is integral to the town’s history. This would not have been possible without all the pieces coming together from the federal, state, and local levels.”

According to Don Shauver, town board member and lifelong Salamonia resident, the restoration work is already underway and is expected to reach completion by late October 2023. The project encompasses essential improvements such as the addition of a ramp for enhanced accessibility, renovations to the roof, and repairs to the chimney. These crucial enhancements will significantly bolster the building’s safety and usability. “This grant has felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Shauver said, expressing gratitude. “We wouldn’t have been able to make these repairs without it.” Because small towns often struggle with tax revenue, the funding from the READI grant was instrumental in making this project possible.

Many residents perceive these renovations as a promising catalyst for a renewed sense of unity and community. “This project serves as a bridge that connects Salamonia’s past to its bright future and helps instill a sense of pride in our town,” Shauver said. Community members hope the successful completion of this project will kickstart a series of other restoration projects in the town.

“READI investments have been instrumental to fill gaps for projects that have a profound impact on communities throughout the East Central region,” said Trevor Friedeberg, President/CEO of the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership. “The Salamonia Schoolhouse READI project is a shining example of how communities of all sizes have been able to realize the positive impact of the program. We are very proud of this project and the work being done by the residents of Salamonia to lift up their community.”

The Salamonia schoolhouse restoration project is one of 19 projects in East Central Indiana funded by the READI 1.0 grant. East Central Indiana Regional Partnership continues to prepare for the next round of READI, hoping to further build on the successes of the READI 1.0 funding.

Launched by Gov. Holcomb and led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), READI encourages regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that will attract and retain talent in Indiana. The $500 million READI fund was passed by legislation during the 2021 session and was divided among 17 regions. Through READI, 17 regions across the state that represent all 92 counties are moving forward with projects and programs designed to enhance Indiana’s regions for current and future generations of Hoosiers. Collectively, the state’s $500 million investment is expected to yield an additional $9.86 billion in public, private, and nonprofit dollars invested (19.72:1 investment leverage ratio) in enhancing Indiana’s quality of life, quality of place, and quality of opportunity.