Terre Haute-based First Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: THFF) has donated the more than century-old building that previously served as its main office to Indiana Landmarks. The parent of First Financial Bank says once the building has been restored, it will serve as the new home of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
The building at 643 Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute was built in 1903. It served as the bank’s main office headquarters for 60 years until the bank moved into its current facility in 1988. Since then, its space has been shared by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau and the western regional office of Indiana Landmarks.
Indiana Landmarks says it and CANDLES approached First Financial about donating the building in 2016.
"We knew that CANDLES needed more space and wanted to move downtown," said Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis. "And having been a tenant in the old First National building many years ago, we thought it could be an ideal location for CANDLES. We’re grateful to the bank for helping us pursue our vision."
In addition to donating the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bank is also contributing $110,000 to help Indiana Landmarks begin the renovation process. Davis adds former Indiana Landmarks board member Fred Nation first encouraged to organization to pursue the restoration of the building.
"The saving of a historic building is more than preserving a structure," said Nation. "It is finding a new use for a landmark that stands for the character and history of the community. Instead of going to a landfill, this majestic structure will continue to build memories for and serve new generations as Terre Haute’s downtown continues to regain vitality."
A timeline for the renovation process was not provided.