$352K Grant To Preserve Versailles’ Tyson Auditorium
By Mike Perleberg
Inside Tyson Auditorium in Versailles. Photo by Indiana Landmarks.
(Versailles, Ind.) – A large grant will go a long way in preserving Tyson Auditorium in Versailles.
Tyson Auditorium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It hosted South Ripley and Versailles High School basketball games for decades after it was completed in 1950. Then known as a basketball palace, it even hosted some home games for the legendary 1954 Milan Indians boys basketball team.
The facility largely remained empty after 2009 when South Ripley began playing their basketball games in a new gymnasium built at the school across the small town. It became listed on Indiana Landmarks’ list of the most endangered historic places in Indiana for a short time.
A non-profit group purchased the building in 2013 and began hosting youth leagues and community programs there, bringing Tyson to life once again.
On September 4, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs awarded the Town of Versailles with a $352,300 grant from its Public Facilities Program to complete the historic preservation of Tyson Auditorium.
“The funding provided by OCRA will be used to improve the windows, roofing and masonry on the auditorium, ensuring its positive role in the community for years to come,” State Senator Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg) said in a news release.
State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) says the center has brought together people from all walks of life, offering basketball programs, theater programs, family fun nights and much more.
“I am proud to see this vital community asset recognized with a historic preservation grant, which will allow them to continue to host meaningful community events for years to come,” said Frye.
OCRA says its Public Facilities Program has the goal of improving quality of place in communities across the state as well as to generate jobs and spur economic revitalization. Eligible PFP projects range from community facilities such as libraries, museums, community centers, and performance spaces to historic preservation efforts.
“The establishment and continued maintenance of public facilities and historic buildings is vital to the identity of an area, but also to the preservation of the culture of the entire state,” OCRA Executive Director Bill Konyha said. “We look forward to seeing more Versailles residents in and around the soon to be renovated Tyson Auditorium.”
In total, OCRA awarded $4.7 million in grant funding through PFP to 14 Hoosier communities this year. Those funds will help preserve buildings, build new fire stations, and improve ADA access at old buildings used by the public.
Funding for PFP comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program and is administered for Indiana by OCRA.
Last year, the Rising Sun Regional Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to the Tyson Community Advancement Foundation toward a local match for a state grant to renovate the auditorium’s façade.