Wooden panels that had covered the old Greyhound Bus Station’s windows have been removed allowing light to flow through the building once again. An open house is being planned for May 10 for the old Greyhound Bus Station located at the corner of Sycamore and NW Third streets. Indiana Landmarks officials hope to make the building that opened in 1939 and closed in 2007 an important part of a revived Downtown Evansville. Staff photo by Jason Clark
Wooden panels that had covered the old Greyhound Bus Station’s windows have been removed allowing light to flow through the building once again. An open house is being planned for May 10 for the old Greyhound Bus Station located at the corner of Sycamore and NW Third streets. Indiana Landmarks officials hope to make the building that opened in 1939 and closed in 2007 an important part of a revived Downtown Evansville. Staff photo by Jason Clark
Indiana Landmarks officials say their goal in restoring the old Greyhound Bus Station is not to just evoke memories, but to make it a focal point of a revived Downtown Evansville.

“We want people in the building, and we want the building to be part of the community,” said Stewart Sebree, Southwest Indiana field office director.

Indiana Landmarks obtained the former bus station from the city of Evansville in March 2013, after the city had removed asbestos and lead-based paint from the building. The Greyhound station, located at the corner of Sycamore and NW Third streets, opened in 1939 and closed in 2007.

Partitions that divided the building’s space and wooden panels that recently covered the station’s windows have been removed.

Light streamed through them Tuesday as Sebree explained what the station looked like in its heyday — complete with a ticket counter and waiting area, a telephone bank, a shoe shine, a cigar stand, a men’s lounge with showers and an upstairs women’s lounge with a bathtub.

Indiana Landmarks officials want to preserve the bus station’s history and flavor. The nonprofit is encouraging residents to attend an open house from 1-3 p.m. May 10 at the former Greyhound station to hear an update and offer opinions about future uses.

Sebree acknowledged a restaurant is one possibility, and some preliminary contact with potential occupants already has taken place. He said a restaurant could easily find synergies with the farmers market, which is conducted on an adjacent lot during the summer months.

The stated goal of Indiana Landmarks, based in Indianapolis, is to “defend architecturally unique, historically significant, and communally cherished properties ... rescue them, rehabilitate them and given them new purpose.” Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis said the former Greyhound station remains a priority, even though the process has been slow.

“It’s taken a while to get this thing going,” Davis said. “There’s various delays that have occurred, and I know people have been wondering what’s taking so long. One purpose (of the May 10 open house) is to let people know we’re kicking off the restoration, and it is going to happen.

“Whatever happens there, we want it to contribute to the economic vitality of Downtown Evansville. That’s kind of a key thing. Originally, we were looking at a nonprofit function, but now we’re looking at the highest and best use, and that has not been determined. A restaurant, that allows the public good use.”

Sebree currently works out of his home, and Indiana Landmarks has shown interest in placing his office in the Greyhound building, along with a restaurant or some other use.

“That’s part of the plan right now, but if that will impeded the highest and best use we can always find another space (for the field office),” Davis said. “The project is not dependent on that.”

Indiana Landmarks is seeking bids from contractors to do exterior work. Davis said fundraising soon will begin in earnest.

“There’s a chance we would receive a challenge grant, and if that is the case, fundraising will kick off. But one way or the other, we’ll go at it full force. Early May is going to be a turning point for the project. As with a lot of restoration projects, the building will get uglier before it gets pretty ... The interest level is appropriate given we’re in the early stage of the project. We haven’t been actively soliciting. We will take a more focused approach in the near future in nailing down the next use of the building.”

In historic preservation, Davis said, “before” and “after” tours often are effective, and when it comes to the former Greyhound station, the May 10 open house “is the ‘before’ tour.” A guest at the event will be the Tri-State Chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, a group that seeks homes for greyhound dogs that have been used in racing.

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