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10/12/2017 12:05:00 PM
Spencer Pride acquires downtown historic building for new home
Jonathan Balash, president of Spencer Pride, at the old I.O.R.M (Improved Order of Red Men) building near the square in downtown Spencer on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. Staff photo by Chris Howell
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Jonathan Balash, president of Spencer Pride, at the old I.O.R.M (Improved Order of Red Men) building near the square in downtown Spencer on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. Staff photo by Chris Howell

Laura Lane, Herald-Times

Spencer Pride has purchased a deserted historic building in downtown Spencer that’s housed businesses ranging from a steakhouse to a church to be the LGBTQ+ organization's new and permanent home.

The building was constructed in 1898 as the local lodge for the Improved Order of Red Men, the nation's oldest patriotic fraternal organization.

The nonprofit Spencer Pride paid $110,000 for the two-level, 9,300-square-foot building at 17 E. Franklin St., on the north side of the courthouse square. Next door, another once-empty building is being renovated into the Spencer Coffee Shop. 

Spencer Pride President Jonathan Balash said the group has big plans for the building, including two affordable apartments intended for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

For a decade, Spencer Pride has hosted a festival in Spencer that draws up to 2,000 people and 100 vendors. “This may be the only place in Indiana where you can see a drag show on a courthouse lawn,” Balash said when he previewed the 2016 event. “Maybe in the country.” The organization works to increase acceptance in rural communities.

Last fall, the group opened a community center and gift shop in 3,000 square feet of rented space in a renovated building at 46 E. Market St. on the south side of the courthouse square. It will stay open, Balash said, until renovations can be made at the just-purchased building across the way.

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