Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Museum’s home is up for sale

Although its tenants have yet to receive official word, the two-story building that houses the city’s Macedonian Museum, the Toscani Pizzeria and a couple of law offices, is up for sale.

No “For Sale” sign is posted out front, but the structure – which stretches across 122-124 W. Wayne St., and encompasses about 18,000 square feet – has been on the market since spring, said Dan Carmody, president of the Downtown Improvement District.

Carmody said his office had received several inquiries, but “as far as I know there hasn’t been an offer. I think it’s just too much building for what their needs are right now.”

The building’s owner, the Macedonian Patriotic Organization (MPO), didn’t return calls Tuesday.

MPO, which publishes the bi-weekly Macedonian Tribune newspaper in the building, moved from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne in the early 1980s. The newspaper’s editorial content is created in-house and then printed off-site in Kendallville.

The museum was established in 1986, and contains original costumes and traditional dress from Macedonia and other historical artifacts. Located on the first floor of the building, the walls of the museum hold striking creations from an annual art show held in April. On the second floor, the MPO archival library contains about 2,000 books, pictures of former Fort Wayne Mayor Ivan Lebamoff, who was of Macedonian descent, other photos recognizing Macedonian culture and a large linotype machine that for decades printed the Macedonian Tribune in English and Macedonian.

MPO administrative assistant Virginia Surso, currently working on an exhibit celebrating the life of Lebamoff, who died May 18, said she and others in Fort Wayne’s Macedonian community had heard rumors about a sale for some time.

“Local Macedonians don’t want (the building) to be sold,” she said. “Locally, people want to maintain the corporate offices here. This is where our roots are.”

Last month, Scott Glaze, chairman and chief executive officer of Fort Wayne Metals, purchased space nearby at 121 W. Wayne St., where he plans to open an Irish pub. Mike Harris, who co-owns Toscani Pizzeria with wife Julie, also has heard rumors about the building being for sale. “If (the sale) will help things get better, that’s fine,” he said, adding that business is good at his restaurant. “The (Macedonian community) is part of the reason of our success.”

♦ Founded in 1922, the Fort Wayne-based Macedonian Patriotic Organization (MPO) has 20-25 chapters throughout the world.

♦ Macedonia is located in southeastern Europe, north of Greece.

♦ There are about 600 Macedonian families in Fort Wayne, and most of them hail from the Kostur region.

♦ A trip to Macedonia in summer 2007 is being organized. Call MPO administrative assistant Virginia Surso for more information at 422-5900.

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