Batesville residents have likely noticed the portals – signs on buildings or wooden doors on stands displaying historic photos – first installed in 2016 for Indiana's bicentennial.  There are 29 total portals with 11 being doors. “These doors were placed where buildings used to stand in Batesville to give folks the idea of what our downtown used to look like,” said Carolyn Dieckmann, treasurer of the Batesville Area Historical Society's (BAHS) board. Downtown Batesville changed dramatically during the late 1960s and early 1970s, following the construction of an outdoor shopping plaza. Why the Portals? Dieckmann and BAHS board vice president Bill Flannery were asked to come up with a project to commemorate the bicentennial. “I came up with the idea of, 'why don't we try to reignite what Batesville used to look like,'” said Dieckmann: “we went back to the mayor to get the funds and boy, they loved the idea of bringing back what Batesville used to look like. That was the first art put, really, here in Batesville in 2016.” Residents also loved the portals. According to Dieckmann, “especially like, Wagner's Shoe Store because [the current owner's] father-in-law started that business with his dad, so, when they tore it down, they built their store over there on Boehringer Street.” 

The doors, per Dieckmann, need to be redone – painted or replaced, as needed – every year and a half to two years, as the elements take their toll. She approached city officials requesting the Belterra funds, which will be used to replace the wooden doors with fiberglass ones. Fiberglass doors won't need to be repaired or replaced due to the weather and are more durable than wood. 

When the doors are replaced, the subjects of the portals will also change. “It's going to be different shots of downtown Main Street,” Dieckmann said, and there will be fewer portals – four rather than the current five on Main Street, three instead of four on East Pearl Street. The portal highlighting Allen W. (“Andy”) Irrgang, located across from Amack's Well at the corner of Main and George streets will also be replaced with a portal featuring the 1907 city officials. Irrgang, “was our town historian” Dieckmann explained, “so I thought he needed to be there.” WWII Navy veteran and owner of Irrgang Insurance Agency, Irrgang died Feb., 2016, aged 91 per an obituary on wrbiradio.com.

Changes to the Portals aren't the only thing happening at the historical society. On March 3, the society will launch their next display “A Tribute to Our Veterans,” showcasing local veterans. Residents are welcome to loan or donate items related to local veterans, whether information or uniforms. The historical society is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., or by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call Carolyn Dieckmann at 812.212.9382.