Chautauqua Building

The Chautauqua Building, which is currently closed to the public, was the discussion of the Shelbyville City Council again on Monday. A referendum is in the works for repair or demolition.

Shelbyville City Council is ready to put the Chautauqua Building restoration or demolition to a public vote. Officials were scheduled to discuss on Monday night at the city council meeting a proposed referendum question.

The proposed question is: “Shall the City of Shelbyville protect from demolition and preserve the Chautauqua Building, for use and access as a public property suitable for functions and events, at a projected repair cost of $750,000-$800,000 with no projected tax increase to cover repair costs if the cost of demolition to remove the Chautauqua Building is projected at $60,000?”

According to Mayor Jeff Johnson, the proposed question was crafted by City Attorney Jack Kiley and City Clerk Rachel Wallace with input from commissioners.

Prior to the meeting Mayor Johnson said, “I don’t know what direction it will go. Some think the cost is too low, some too high on both repair and demo.”

He expected that the question might be modified.

“It may not stay the same. It isn’t set,” Johnson said. “That’s what tonight’s vote will do, if it passes.”

This story was written prior to the meeting. Visit on Tuesday for details of what happened.

The city council has looked into renovation of the historic Chautauqua Building for about 15 years with various mayors and city commissioners. There was a high dollar estimate back in 2008 to improve the structure as a venue. There has been a more recent lower estimate to just preserve the structure. Others have suggested demolition.

There is a primary election in March. The council has the option of including a referendum for the public to decide what to do. If it is on the ballot during the primary, it will save the city the extra cost of a special referendum vote. The deadline to submit the question for the referendum for the March election is Dec. 31.

John Curtis can be reached at

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