Mayor John Hamilton has asked Miah Michaelsen, Deputy Director of the Indiana Arts Commission, and Valerie Peña, Assistant Vice President/Chief of Staff for the Office of Government Relations & Economic Engagement at Indiana University, to co-chair the Waldron Recommendation Committee, an advisory group that will evaluate and provide recommendations for the future use of the building currently known as the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.
In May, the City and Ivy Tech Community College announced that ownership of the circa-1915 building that had once served as Bloomington’s City Hall would revert from Ivy Tech to the City. The City will work with the co-chairs to assemble a diverse committee of residents, including a city council member, to consider the building’s potential long-term uses and issue recommendations over the coming months. The City invites residents to nominate themselves or others for service on the committee by contacting Director of Public Engagement Mary Catherine Carmichael at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-349-3406.
The formation of the Waldron Recommendation Committee follows a review of outstanding agreements for the facility’s galleries and performing arts spaces and preliminary inspections of the structure to assess physical needs and determine ongoing maintenance costs. Working with the committee, the City will assemble this information and the results of a professional appraisal of the building’s value as it prepares details for the transfer of ownership. At the same time, the committee will convene stakeholders from across the community and elicit public input to consider various future uses for the facility and develop recommendations for the administration and council.
“I look forward to working with the committee as we re-envision the future of this downtown landmark,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “For over a century, the Waldron has played a key role at the city’s center, and as we welcome ideas and suggestions from all corners, I’m confident that we will find a way to ensure that it remains a source of vitality for our downtown.”
Ivy Tech owned and operated the building at 122 South Walnut Street as a community art center since 2010, when it purchased the building from the City of Bloomington. Previously, the City had deeded the property to the Bloomington Area Arts Council, which operated it as an art center for around two decades. The building has provided gallery space, classroom space for art classes, two performance spaces, meeting rooms and offices, and since 1994 has been the home of WFHB Community Radio.
The Ivy Tech State Board of Trustees approved the transfer of the property to the City during their June 4 meeting. Ivy Tech’s Center for Lifelong Learning classes previously offered at the Waldron were relocated to the main Ivy Tech Bloomington campus. Following a formal review of the agreement by the Board of Public Works, the property will officially transfer to the City on January 1, 2021.
Built in 1915, the nearly 20,000-square-foot building served as Bloomington’s City Hall and subsequently housed the City’s police and fire departments. Bloomington’s Old City Hall building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Courthouse Square Historic District. The Waldron name dates to 1990 and recognizes Cecile Waldron, a major donor to the building renovation project, and John Waldron, her husband's great-grandfather, a prominent 19th-century Bloomington politician.