“Year of 12:” Young couple aims to restore Terre Haute’s historic 12 Points in 2021

Special Report

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A young couple return to their Terre Haute roots to revitalize a nearly forgotten neighborhood.

What’s left of 12 Points today is mostly a memory, but given a rather short timeline, one couple aims to change that.

Tiffany and Mark Baker have marked this year the “Year of 12.” Their goal is to bring 12 new businesses to the historic 12 Points district in Terre Haute in 12 months.

Bakers talk about their 12 Points vision

“We have three streets that intersect here. Three streets, four corners, 12 Points on the compass,” Vigo County Historian Tim Crumrin said.

12 Points Hotel, photo courtesy: Tim Crumrin

The nostalgia of 12 Points’ past still lingers. Crumrin says the 12 Points community was started in the early 1900’s by Walter Phillips. The former 12 Points Hotel still stands in its original spot. Crumrin says it was owned by the notorious Madame Brown’s husband.

“This is a national historic neighborhood,” Crumrin said.

Extended interview with Vigo Co. Historian, Tim Crumrin, on 12 Points history

The former State Bank is now home to Great Giorno’s Italian restaurant.

“A lot of people come here and say ‘I used to come here with my grandma and grandpa, I used to bank here,'” owner of Great Giorno restaurant, Jimmy Saliju, said.

What Great Giorno owner, Jimmy Saliju, hears from customers

“I’m a European and I love old history, I love history, I love old buildings. Old buildings have a lot of … energy that went through … the only way we’re going to save it is if we support it,” Saliju said.

Jimmy Saliju hopes Year of 12 initiative brings new life to 12 Points

Steak & Shake 12 Points Grille, photo courtesy: Tim Crumrin

The new Parq building is another former bank. Owners Tiffany and Mark Baker hope to bring foot traffic back to 12 Points.

12 Points skating rink, photo courtesy: Tim Crumrin

They say they invested in a piece of Terre Haute’s past because they believe in its future. A future they plan to build all in one year. It’s their goal to bring 12 new businesses to 12 Points in 12 months.

Bakers hope to bring foot traffic back to 12 Points, become extension of downtown

The Bakers spent the majority of their young lives traveling the world. It was upon their return to Terre Haute that they were inspired to really ground their roots.

“Now we have our three babies living here with us and we want to make this a cool neighborhood and make this a place, as they’re growing up, it doesn’t look like it did when I was growing up,” Tiffany Baker said.

Work started immediately upon their purchase of the Parq building. Industrial style apartments await tenants upstairs, while three commercial spaces wait for businesses downstairs. Three Son’s Seasoning and Ferm Fresh are the first two businesses to announce their Parq building spots.

Jitter Bugs boutique also recently made the announcement to come to 12 Points and Studio 12.

Tiffany Baker talks about community partners, becoming arts district

“We’re overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of these small businesses that are local that want to start businesses and now we’re giving them the chance to do so by offering them affordable rent.”

Tiffany says monthly commercial rent in Terre Haute can be close to $3,300, whereas the Bakers charge between $300 – $800 a month. Outdoor patio space was approved by the Terre Haute Board of Public Works in January.

“There’s a lot of people who want to see this area come back to life and remember it being lively, so, I’m ready to be a part of that,” Tiffany said.

12 Points Citizens Market, photo courtesy: Tim Crumrin
12 Points Army Parade, photo courtesy: Tim Crumrin

As far as the pandemic’s hand in the “Year of 12,” Mark Baker says it hasn’t slowed them down; in fact, it almost seems like the opposite.

“We already kind of had the plan of what we were going to do and we knew the trend was going toward creating all these little villages again where you have all the small businesses where they are all local community members and people actually flocking to those areas and spending the money here … the pandemic just kind of helped solidify that in our minds now. I think everyone is on board with the shop local, support local theme,” Mark Baker said.

Tim Crumrin says Terre Haute hasn’t had a real sense of community since Larry Bird era, applauds Bakers’ efforts

Learn more about the Bakers backstory here: Meet the 30-something couple with plans to restore Terre Haute’s 12 Points neighborhood.

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