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Terre Haute Bank Building Restoration Work Funded by Grant

TERRE HAUTE, IN – Indiana Landmarks is preparing to restore significant artistic features at the historic First National Bank building in Terre Haute, supported by a $300,000 challenge grant from the Wisconsin-based Jeffris Family Foundation.

The funding will be used to repair and restore ornamental murals and plaster on the ceiling of the main hall in the former bank building at 643 Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. As part of the grant agreement, Indiana Landmarks will be tasked with raising an additional $600,000 in matching funds for the project by June 30, 2026.

In 2018, First Financial Corporation, the parent company of First Financial Bank, donated the bank’s former main office in Terre Haute to Indiana Landmarks. Long vacant under a leaking roof, the building needed immediate intervention. In addition to donating the former bank, First Financial added a cash contribution of $110,000 to help Indiana Landmarks stabilize the structure while seeking a permanent use.

Since taking title to the property, Indiana Landmarks has invested over $700,000 in substantial exterior rehabilitation and interior cleanout, including roof replacement, masonry repair and cleaning, installation of a new panel system on the west facade, and window and front entry restoration.

Restoration of the murals and plaster is a component of a planned comprehensive rehabilitation of the downtown landmark.

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“The spectacular banking hall is one of Indiana’s grandest interior spaces, and we’re grateful to the Jeffris Family Foundation for boosting efforts to preserve it,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks.

Indiana Landmarks is currently assembling an advisory committee of key community representatives and stakeholders to identify potential reuse scenarios for the former bank. Any future sale of the property will retain Indiana Landmarks’ protective covenant on the building.

“We understand the building’s significance to the community and its critical role in supporting a vibrant downtown. We look forward to working with local partners to identify the highest and best use for this important landmark,” said Davis.

First Financial occupied the building until June 1988 when construction was completed on its current headquarters at 6th and Wabash. The former bank building was then used by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, which shared the structure with other tenants including Wabash Valley Community Foundation, Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Indiana Landmarks’ Western Regional Office.

Chicago architect Solon Beman designed the bank, which was built in 1903. A late 1920s Neoclassical makeover designed by prominent Terre Haute firm Miller & Yeager and the Taylor Palmer Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, created the three-story banking hall with marble floors, walnut wainscoting, a coffered barrel-vaulted ceiling with a central skylight, and incorporated seven murals by Vicente Aderente, a New York artist whose work adorns landmarks nationwide.

“I think this is one of the best foundation projects we’ve had,” said Tom Jeffris, president of the Jeffris Family Foundation. The foundation also supported restoration of the Shrewsbury-Windle House in Madison, Indiana, which won Indiana Landmarks’ Cook Cup for Outstanding Restoration in 2019.

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