Limberlost Visitor Center dedicated Saturday

Authored by Jim Langham on Apr 29, 2013

Just as Randy Lehman, executive director for the Limberlost Historic Site, was about to initiate dedication ceremonies for the new Limberlost Visitor Center at 11 a.m. on Saturday, an unexpected guest made its presence known at the event.
Lehman was obviously startled as he looked up and said, “and there’s our bald eagle. Perhaps Gene Stratton-Porter is making her present known after all today.”
With sounds of “ah” and “oh,” the 100 plus in attendance at the meeting looked towards the blue skies as a graceful eagle circled above the ceremony and then continued to circle various portions of Geneva for several minutes.
State officials present from Indianapolis seemed especially thrilled to see the national bird that is emerging in greater numbers with the development of the wetlands surrounding the Limberlost Historic Site. Much of that work has been done by the hard work of Limberlost Wetland developer Ken Brunswick.
Lehman expressed appreciation to all organizations, businesses and individuals who had provided the finances to spearhead the building of the center. The director said that his entire career had been “long and interesting,” and to be at the point of the dedication of a visitor’s center is an event many state directors would long for over a lifetime.
Lehman quipped that he practically has the same wardrobe that he had when he arrived at Geneva from southern Indiana several years ago.
“The way that everyone joined together to work together is the key to the success of this project,” said Lehman. “Everyone working together has made this site a much better place.”
“The remembrance of our heritage is the primary purpose of this beautiful building,” said Rev. Donald Sauls, who presented the invocation.
“Please accept our humble thanksgiving for all of your benefits to us,” stated Sauls in his prayer. “Thank you for this magnificent building.”
Bank of Geneva president Andrew Briggs is a part of a long line of family members who have worked to develop the site and initiate a dream for the local community.
Briggs’ grandfather, James D. Briggs, was a part of the Limberlost Conservation Society which was formed to restore and develop the state site.
In addition, Briggs has led a sizable donation from the bank to assist with the building construction.
“This is fabulous,” said Briggs. “Randy (Lehman) has done a great job. This is one of two state sites in northern Indiana and the other is the Gene Stratton-Porter site in Rome City. We are in great shape in this community with the cabin and the visitor’s center.”
Kathleen McLary, COO of the Indiana State Museum and Historical Sites, was one of the main initiators of the idea and plans for the visitor’s center.
McLary said that much of the success for the center came as a result of the community, state and businesses working together.
“This was a community project,” said McLary. “I have been working with this organization for 37 years. I’ve watched both Gene Stratton-Porter sites. Gene’s philosophy and dreams involved reclaiming the wetlands. We are seeing that happen here.”
“I’m really proud of this building, proud of the joint effort which made it possible,” observed Bruce Beesley, vice president of the State Historic Sites, who was present for the event.
“The state and local community got together to do this; both sides did what they had to do to get this accomplished. They’ve already had a couple of events here. In both events they’ve had more attendance than they had planned on. Already, we are seeing the benefits of this space,” said Beesley.
Dick Clutter, president of the Geneva Town Council, emphasized that the center would be a wonderful asset to the town.
“It will help tourism in the county; it will be a good place to have meetings,” said Clutter. “It’s not only the town, it’s a whole county thing, and not just for Adams County, Jay County will benefit as well.”

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