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Madison developers buy Trimble tobacco barn

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Beams to be used in mill renovation project

By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

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A portion of Trimble County history will be part of an ambitious historic renovation project on the riverfront in Madison, Ind.

David Landau and his partners in the River Mill Resort project signed a contract with the Trimble County Public Library board of trustees to remove the giant tobacco barn that stands just south of Bedford city limits on U.S. 42.

The structure stands on land purchased by the board for construction of a new library facility. Site preparation is already in progress on the property.

Landau had crews start this week to remove trees and other vegetation that cover the 85-foot-by-135-foot structure. The barn will be removed in sections; beams from the barn will be used as supports for renovation of a portion of an old cotton mill on Vaughn Drive, formerly the Meece building. Materials from the barn also will be used in the architecture of the new library.

Library Director Kathy McKown said the board contracted with Landau’s company to remove the barn for $6,000. She said other bids ranged from $10,000 to $35,000 for removal.

Landau said his research has shown that the Bedford tobacco barn once was part of a regional cooperative of tobacco farmers. Two sister barns once stood near the banks of the Ohio River in Milton, he said.

“We’re excited to connect the two areas,” Landau said. “That barn is going into a theater and a library. It keeps part of Bedford history alive and connects it to Madison.”

Landau said he hopes visitors who stay at River Mill Resort, which is expected to be completed by 2011, will venture into Trimble County for its “natural beauty,” farm markets and other tourist attractions.

Landau, a native of Chicago, Ill., said he was drawn to Madison and its historic preservation efforts after hearing a piece about the town on National Public Radio. While vacationing there, he came across the Meece building, and immediately saw it as the location for a project he’d had in mind for some time.

He said Madison is poised to become an international center for historic preservation.

The resort will have 70 guest suites ranging from 450 square feet to 1,800 square feet, Landau said. Plans include six restaurants offering everything from wood-fired pizza to Pan-Asian cuisine, as well as retail space and, eventually, residential space.

Despite the bumpy economy, Landau said response to the project from investors in the hotel industry has been very positive.