Historic Review Board Oversees Stone Water Race Rehabilitation

Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2021

HUNTINGTON – The City of Huntington Historic Review Board is overseeing the rehabilitation of a historic stone water race at Memorial Park that was first built in 1937 under the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration.

“The WPA put people to work on projects that would provide a long-term benefit to local communities. We are fortunate to have resources in Memorial Park that remind us of those accomplishments. The stone water race is not only beautiful, it is functional and has served Huntington for over eight decades,” said Shannon Zuercher, a historic preservation consultant and staff to the Historic Review Board.

Last year, the City of Huntington received a $20,000 matching grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology for the initial design phase. Fort Wayne-based firm Engineering Resources has drafted design plans that are currently in final draft form and under review by DNR-DHPA.

Pending approval of the plans, the City will make a $50,000 grant application for the project’s construction phase later this year.

“Because the City of Huntington has designated Memorial Park as a National Register Historic District and the Historic Review Board is a Certified Local Government, it allows us unique access to these grant opportunities. Our track record for obtaining grants for Memorial Park and Sunken Gardens has been excellent,” said Bryn Keplinger, the city’s director of Community Development and Redevelopment.

Storm water runoff from much of Huntington’s north side drains into Memorial Park’s two ponds. A dam on the south pond releases water into the roughly 490-foot-long stone water race, which routes the flow under West Park Drive. This system empties into the Little River.

The channel’s stone walls are roughly 16 inches thick and range 3 to 5 feet in height and 8 to 12 feet in width. Its condition has deteriorated over the years, with collapsed stones in several locations.

The City will use money from the Parks & Recreation Department’s Matching Grant Fund for its share of costs related to the water race’s design and storm water bond proceeds for the rehabilitation.

Memorial Park, located at West Park Drive and Bartlett streets in Huntington, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The park also is the site of Huntington’s Veterans Memorial that includes a T-33 Shooting Star Jet and Sherman tank as its centerpieces.

IDNR’s Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology selected the Memorial Park stone water race project through a competitive grant application process that uses National Park Service historic preservation grant funds for qualifying projects across the state.

This project has been funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

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