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Get to know historic Salem this afternoon and take a stroll around historic Salem with Indiana Landmarks.

The event starts with a guided walking tour of Salem’s National Register-listed town square at noon.

courthouse
Washington County Courthouse

That will be followed by a visit to the John Hay Center, a campus that includes the 1830s birthplace of John Milton Hay – personal secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Secretary of State under presidents McKinley and Roosevelt – as well as a pioneer village of log structures and the Stevens Memorial Museum.

Next up is the presentation of Indiana Landmarks’ southern Indiana preservation awards at the museum at 1:45 p.m.

After refreshments and before the tour continues, put yourself in a group photo on the south steps and lawn of the courthouse, a 10 Most Endangered site, for submission to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “This Place Matters” campaign.

Most people would be surprised to learn that a venerable nineteenth-century courthouse faces jeopardy, but the Washington County Courthouse is endangered.

At the center of the National Register-listed courthouse square in Salem, the 1888 courthouse towers over the landscape, an imposing reflection of the commitment our nineteenth-century counterparts gave to this symbol of community life and justice.

Louisville architect Harry P. McDonald designed the building in the Romanesque Revival style, using artfully rusticated Indiana limestone with arched entryways and a conical clock/bell tower to convey solidity and strength.

The appearance of solidity is deceiving. Lightning struck the beacon-like tower in 1934, sparking a fire. Ill-conceived repairs at the time trapped water in the stone and caused deterioration over the intervening decades, making the tower unstable.

The structure needs reinforcement before a high wind causes a collapse.

Chronic roof and masonry leaks also require urgent attention.

The afternoon ends with tours of two private homes:  Raymond and Tina Lee’s Second-Empire style home built in 1886 and Tom Johnson and Lisa Thompson’s c.1850 home.

WHAT:  Salem Stroll

WHEN: Oct. 23, noon to 5 p.m. (ET)

WHERE:  Starts at the Washington County Courthouse south steps, 99 Public Square, Salem. Park on the square for the walking tour; park at the John Hay Center/Stevens Memorial Museum, 307 E. Market St. for program.

WHO: Sponsored by Indiana Landmarks

COST:  $25/person; $5/child under 18 ($15/member of Indiana Landmarks). Tour tickets may be purchased online at salemstroll.eventbrite.com.