New Life for Historic Property

Historic Bremen, Inc. was founded in 2001 for the preservation and collection of history unique to the northeast Marshall County community of Bremen, Indiana. The organization’s largest project was the relocation and restoration of the Bremen Depot. The building was moved with help from a federal grant and local matching dollars in 2009. The total project cost was $800,000. Historic Bremen has since turned its attention on the establishment of a history center in the downtown. As their collection grew the organization developed a sophisticated computer system of cataloging donations and tracking donors. The Bremen Center for History held its grand opening on May 19, 2013. Currently the organization’s exhibits and offices occupy approximately three-quarters of the space available to them. The next phase will be to finish the remaining space for additional exhibits.

The Marshall County Community Foundation has assisted Historic Bremen every step of the way. The Foundation first supported the organization’s efforts in tracking donations with a $3,000 grant for software and hardware costs. The system allows volunteers and visitors alike to quickly search the archives for items they are interested in. The Foundation then supported the historic Bremen Depot project by assisting with matching funds with a grant in the amount of $18,000. A third grant from the Foundation assisted Historic Bremen in the telling of the life story of one of Marshall County’s favorite sons and Bremen native, former Indiana Governor, Dr. Otis R. Bowen. A $4,000 grant helped create a children’s book on the life of “Doc” Bowen. The latest support by the Foundation was in the form of a $5,000 grant for the purchase and fabrication of display cases for the history center’s exhibit space. Without support from the Foundation the space for artifact display would have been significantly reduced and less professionally organized.

More than three hundred people have visited the restored depot since its grand opening in 2011. The building is used as an interpretive and welcome center at Bremen’s east gateway park. The building is a unique structure located along the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and was recently added to the Indiana State Register of Historic Sites. Comments shared with Historic Bremen include long-time Bremen residents’ recollections of the depot and expressions of pride in their community. Within two weeks of the Bremen Center for History’s grand opening over 150 individuals visited the museum. RT Henke, president of Historic Bremen, said that the history center has created an “awakening of the importance of Bremen’s history” as grandparents share with their grandchildren important aspects of their past. The history center has provided a central place to display what so many residents have held onto for generations.

Henke believes that both the depot and the history center will be important facilities that future Bremen residents will hold in high regard as they look back to when they were restored and developed. The Marshall County Community Foundation is proud to have been there at the start to partner with our community members in the good town of Bremen.