Lebanon — Lebanon’s iconic Memory Hall was set to have a new owner by Friday, Oct. 18 (unable to confirm at press time).
Ironman Properties of Lafayette is purchasing the building, including the gymnasium. Closing on the agreement was due late last week, Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis said at a city council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15, before the board voted 4-0 to approve sale.
The building at 327 N. Lebanon St. was the site of Lebanon High School from 1922 through 1968, when classes were moved to the school’s present location.
The 2,200-seat gym was built in 1931. It was the home gym of Indiana basketball icon Rick Mount, who scored 2,595 points, fifth-highest in state history, in his four-year prep career that concluded in 1966 when he went on to play for the Purdue Boilermakers and become a first-round draft pick by the Indiana Pacers in 1970. The gym also was featured as the site of a regional final game in the 1985 movie “Hoosiers.”
The city of Lebanon owned the property for several years but could not afford to maintain the structure.The building was vacated in 1988 and sat empty until it was purchased by Indianapolis developer Leo Stenz, who converted the classroom section into 59 apartments originally intended for senior citizens and operated it under the name Lebanon Housing Partnership. The gymnasium remained the property of the city, however, and was leased by the city to Stenz for $1 a year.
Lebanon Housing Partnership defaulted on its mortgage, and the building was acquired by Fannie Mae in January 2012 after LHP fell more than $1.41 million in arrears.
Flaherty and Collins, an Indianapolis development firm, had been in talks to purchase Memory Hall, The Lebanon Reporter said in a Feb. 11, 2012 story. Duane Miller, vice president of community development for Flaherty and Collins, said the firm hoped to buy the building if the Indiana Housing Finance Authority approved the continuation of tax credits. Nothing developed, however, and the building went on the market at an asking price of $1.2 million, according to several Internet real estate sites.
Lewis said representatives of Ironman Properties have talked with Lebanon Parks Director John Messenger about the gym’s potential.
“Hopefully, at least part of the gym will be available to the public,” Lebanon city attorney Bob Clutter said.
Clutter said he was not certain what Ironman Properties plans for the gym.
“I know they still do want to maintain as much of the historical sentiment as possible,” he said.
The most recent use of the gymnasium for a high school game was on Feb. 3, 2012, when Lebanon hosted Rossville in what may have been the last-ever game played on the famous court.