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The Project

The Cardinal Ritter Birthplace Foundation is in the final phase of renovating the birthplace and childhood home of Cardinal Joseph Elmer Ritter in New Albany, Indiana. Cardinal Ritter's birthplace was in real danger of being torn down.

The city had condemned the house and had ordered the demolition when it was saved by Historic Landmarks of Indiana during 2002 by purchasing the property. It had been pointed out by a local historian, Paul Graf, that the building had once housed Ritter’s Bakery and that Cardinal Ritter had been born in the house and spent his childhood there. The Ritter Bakery was built during the late 1870s and the attached house was added in the 1890s. We decided as an independent group that it was important to save the house and restore it as much as possible to it’s best condition ever, keeping as many of the historical touches as possible.

The rennovation of the home and the new community center are complete. Additional funds are being raised for the Cardinal Ritter Museum, which are attached to the rear of the home, and for a perpetual endowment so the building will never again be in jeopardy.

Ritter Bakery and house
Although it has been a long process; the project is now approximately 85% complete with the renovation truly becoming a community project with many businesses and individuals along the way giving either labor, materials or cash to see that the project would go forward. With some early help coming out of St. Louis, Indianapolis, St. Meinrad and other locations much of the work and money has come from local organizations such as The Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County and Knights of Columbus councils in New Albany, Jeffersonville and Harrison Co., The Floyd Co. Historical Society, The Ogle Foundation and many businesses.

While too numerous to list all of the businesses that have helped some major contributors include Michell, Timperman, Ritz Architects, IMI Concrete, Dan Cristiani Excavating, Koetter Construction, Pry Const., JonPaul Const., PC Lumber, Engineered Lighting Systems, Koetter Woodworking, Metal Sales Manufacturing, Fidelity Roofing, Libs Paving and the Koch Corporation. Many individuals have spent countless hours helping in many ways or have contributed cash in sums large and small for us to get to this point. We are proud to point out to contributors that with donated labor and materials and no paid staff we have stretched any cash given a very long way.

While we have more construction to do to finish the small Cardinal Ritter museum and a memorial rose garden we are happy to announce that the larger newly constructed multi-purpose neighborhood resource center has been completed. We have begun to lease office space to non-profit organizations and we recently were able to proudly announce our first tenants: Housing Partnership, Inc (HPI) and The Home for the Innocents and hope to announce additional tenants in the near future.

Conceptual exhibit designs for the museum by Natural Concepts, Inc.

We are also proud of the work done by two of our long time board members, New Albany Deputy Mayor Carl Malysz and Indiana state representative Ed Clere on a major grant request to help restore rundown or abandoned housing in the S. Ellen Jones neighborhood. On December 28, 2009 , Indiana Lt. Gov. Skillman held a news conference at the Ritter House to announce that a 6.7 million dollar grant had been approved and that the area would see a lot of progress soon. A small part of the grant money is being used as a forgivable loan to finish the multi-purpose section.




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