Change Of Ownership - Saving the Valpo Tech Building


From Walt Breitinger
January 10, 2021



Following eleven years of nearly maniacal dedication to protecting, preserving, and rehabilitating the old Valpo Tech building, One Center Street, LLC, has decided to pass the baton of ownership to a new landlord while I continue with the challenge of collecting and sharing its historical data and artifacts.

The building, located at the confluence of three Indian trails, was constructed circa 1910 along a “ghost railroad” when Lincolnway was a mere dirt road and manufacturing was at its infancy in Valpo.  First known as the Pitkin and Brooks Diamond Cut Glass Factory, it changed hands for a multitude of uses, most notably as Dodge Hall, center of the Valparaiso Technical Institute.

The 1150 West Lincolnway address has placed the historic icon at the West Gate of our city welcoming our residents and visitors alike. The size, location, and historic architecture inspired me to develop the building as a science museum, then as an art center since Valparaiso lacks affordable facilities for budding artists.

That effort resulted in many of the tenants creating or supporting the arts, including the WVLP FM Radio Station (at 103.1 on your dial); Kassie Meeks, violin teacher; Nathan Biancardi, artist; 27 Entertainment; Cooley’s Videography; Bella Photography; Indiana Ballet Theatre; Chicago Street Theater; LimeLights Children’s Theatre (a division of the Porter County Opera House); Carrie Hanks, painter in residence; and Carole Biancardi, who is literally forming the Valparaiso Academy for the Arts, which will be opening soon in the former S.T.E.A.M. Shop in our north wing.

Gene Mellenthin, whose family established and taught at the Valparaiso Technical Institute, will continue to develop, with help from Ron Bodnar and me, several displays and museum nooks which highlight the story of the building through its earliest inhabitants to the present.
In carefully orchestrated covenants, the new owners have agreed to leave the building standing for at least 75 years and to preserve and protect the sentinel Burr Oak tree at the east end of the property. The buyer strikes me as a competent, enthusiastic landlord who has already begun making improvements and has plans to further the safety, appearance, comfort, and long-term viability of the building’s infrastructure, its historic elements, and surrounding environs.
 
I wish to acknowledge Gene Mellenthin, Ron Bodnar, Mark Thompson, Lee Hite, Wes Hittle, Bryan Mitol, and the dozens of Valpo Tech alumni who volunteered during initial purging and restoration efforts; Paul Schreiner for his role in converting the ground floor into a venue for our community radio station; Rich Herr, electrician; Mike Willard, plumber; Dedrick Byrd, mason; members of Valparaiso Oldtime Dance Society and attorney Paul Kohlhoff for their roles in the exhaustive preservation and rehabilitation efforts.
 

Regards,
Walt Breitinger

One Center Street    
1150 West Lincoln Way



Alumni Mapping

From Leland Hite
December 4, 2020

ALUMNI MAPPING 
Formerly the alumni was mapped using a free service called Map-A-List who has now decided to charge for their service.  
So, I switched to Google for mapping. 
Here is a link to the new map. 
It's not searchable by Google but is visible to anyone with the link, just like the other one. 
If no street address exists in the database then everyone in the same city is mapped on top of each other. 
You need to locate those people using the index listing at the left-hand side of the page. 
For example, those in Cleveland with no street address are mapped on top of each other. 
This map has over 2,000 alumni displayed which is not nearly the total alumni count.

Google Map






2020 Valpo Tech - Gathering

Sadly the “2020 Valpo Tech - Gathering” is CANCELLED due to the COVID-19 crisis –

This difficult decision to cancel given where we are in the current pandemic means we are not able to move forward with plans for a safe family gathering -

Please take very good care of yourselves and your loved ones and remember that you are always - even at a distance - an essential friend of the (extended) Valpo Tech Family and we look forward to seeing you next fall in 2021 -



2019 Valpo Tech "Hobnob"




Here's a link to some photos from the "2019 Hobnob" -

"2019 Valpo Tech - Hobnob"

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Life After VTI - 

By David Joseph (K9QCE) Valpo Tech Class of 1962                                                                                               


Dave's journey from VTI to retirement -

Click on the link below -



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"Valpo Tech Newsletter and Public Documents" -


< - - - - -  See all the "Valpo Tech Newsletters and Public Documents" 
                courtesy of Lee Hite - Side Bar to left -
Sadly a note (October 2017) from Leland Hite:
                "When we began this publication, (January 2015) we announced it would continue until VTI content                        became unavailable. As 2017 progressed, we noticed a considerable reduction in newsletter                                 submissions. 
                Many of the articles originated from non-VTI retired railroad telegraphy employees and we greatly                         appreciate their contribution.
                Consequently, the end has arrived and this is the final edition. 
                Thanks for being a reader. 
                Kind Regards: Lee Hite, VTI-1966

Updated October 29, 2017

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History (How Valpo Tech Earned the Respect Of the Electronics Industry)

By Leland L. Hite   VTI Class of 1966   May 25, 2015   

< - - - - -  See "History (Dodge To VTI)" - Side Bar to left -

Added  June 29, 2015

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Looking For Stories

Lee Hite‎ (K8CLI) VTI - Class of 1966 is collecting stories, comments and antidotes for the July Newsletter from your days at VTI, or perhaps an interesting career achievement, or maybe a hobby accomplishment -

 Alums want to hear from Alums so to jump in and Say Something -

Send Email to valpotech@gmail.com


Sadly a note (October 2017) from Leland Hite:
                "When we began this publication, (January 2015) we announced it would continue until VTI content                        became unavailable. As 2017 progressed, we noticed a considerable reduction in newsletter                                 submissions. 
                Many of the articles originated from non-VTI retired railroad telegraphy employees and we greatly                         appreciate their contribution.
                Consequently, the end has arrived and this is the final edition. 
                Thanks for being a reader. 
                Kind Regards: Lee Hite, VTI-1966
Updated October 2017

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Skype™ Night

1st Tuesday Of The Month @ 9 PM EST 

Lowell Katz and Lee Hite (K8CLI) have been kind enough to use their talents to create a "Valpo Tech Skype™ Night" -   


< - - - - -  See "Skype Night" - Side Bar to left -


Sadly "Skype Night" has ended due to lack of interest -

February 2018

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1)  VTI - Catalog & Calendar 1962-1963 & 1963-1964

2)  VTI - 1964 Spring Bulletin 

Two (2) files from Gene Mitchell - Class of 1965 (K3DSM)


< - - - - -  See files in "Links" - Side Bar to left -

Added  January 31, 2015
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"Interviews & Video Clips"
(In Alphabetical order) -


< - - - - -  See "Interviews & Video Clips" - Side Bar to left -

Added Wednesday January 28, 2015
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Mr. Wiggins

< - - - - -  See "Mr. Wiggins" - Side Bar to left -

Added January 20, 2015
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History


For the complete "History of Dodge to VTI"

< - - - - -  See "History (Dodge To VTI)" - Side Bar to left -


Valparaiso Technical Institute
Valparaiso, Indiana
 

“Valparaiso Technical Institute” (VTI) specialized in Radio Engineering, Television, Broadcasting, Police and Aviation Radio, Ultra High Frequency, and all related Electronic training.

VTI was originally established as a department of the “Northern Indiana Normal School” in 1874 by G. A. Dodge.  At that time, Dodge was employed as telegrapher of the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad and saw opportunity in better educating future telegraphers.  Reorganized by Dodge and F. R. Lunbeck in 1891, the school flourished and became the largest telegraph and railway instruction institution in the United States and later became known as “The Dodge Institute of Telegraphy”.

As radio entered the scene, training in "wireless" communication was added to the curriculum of the institute.  Dr. J. B. Hershman purchased the “Dodge Institute” in 1939.

He moved the campus to the site formerly home of "Herald Press , established in 1887.  In 1869 the company was incorporated as "Powers - Higley & Company".  Their initial line of products focused on educational materials a personal wooden desk that included a blackboard and a scrolling educational lithograph was produced, called the "Chautauqua Desk" - this desk became a very successful product for the company. "Powers-Higley & Company" products were marketed by the "L. E. Myers Sales Company", founded by L. E. Myers. By 1913, "Powers-Higley & Company" and "L. E. Myers Sales Company" had merged and operated under the name of" L. E. Myers Company". Around 1915, the company was sold, but continued operating under the "L. E. Myers Company" name. In 1921, a nonprofit company, the "Children's Foundation of Valparaiso", became affiliated with "L. E. Myers Company". The foundation focused primarily on the publication of educational materials for children. Immediately south of this building was the Pitkin & Brooks building, which was a manufacturer of glassware.

Following World War II, the Dodge Institute was renamed the “Valparaiso Technical Institute” (VTI).

Dr. J. B. Hershman changed the name to "Valparaiso Technical Institute" in 1944.

Classes at Valpo Tech after WWII were almost totally veterans going to school under the GI Bill.  In 1953 Valpo Tech had about 85% GI's.

Classes in the Fall 1990 session were finally cancelled due to the fact the faculty had all retired or quit. Students in the lower semesters just lost what investment they had made. Students in the Sixth Semester stood to lose a lot, diplomas and degrees for those who qualified.  A meeting was held with these students and several faculty, where an agreement was made that Valpo Tech would rent classroom space, some of the retired faculty would come back and teach, all so that they got legitimate diplomas or degrees.

Valparaiso Technical Institute went defunct in April of 1991, ending 117 years of operation.

                                                             ~~~~~

Information courtesy of:

Collection: Steven R. Shook

Date: Circa 1950s

Publisher, Printer, Photographer: Valparaiso Technical Institute Bookstore, Dexter Press (#42063)

http://www.inportercounty.org/PhotoPages/Valparaiso/Schools/Valparaiso-Schools060.html

http://www.inportercounty.org/Data/PorterCountyCentennial/Sec2-14_MorganHome.html

Don E. 'Gene' Wiggins http://www.qcwa.org/w9cwg-06040.htm

Lee Hite




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Did you know -

Even though VTI closed in 1991 the city's (Valparaiso, Indiana) flag still contains a logo representing the former Valparaiso Technical Institute.

Vale of Paradise City Flag

The sight of rolling hills topped with trees and surrounded by rich, fertile farmlands in the Vale of Paradise inspired the use of green as the principal color of the first flag for the city of Valparaiso. The purity of white was used to signify a deeply religious city, once called the City of Churches. Gold, the trim color, indicated the quality of schooling, community life, and government the citizens of Valparaiso aimed to maintain.

Emblazoned across the flag's face is a large modern V relating the big Vs of Valparaiso: Valparaiso University, Valparaiso Technical Institute, and the Valparaiso High School. The V surrounds a circle, or hub, that symbolizes the city's status as the Porter County seat.

Symbols
Encircling the hub of the flag is the name Valparaiso and the date of the city's conception, 1866. The four symbols within the circle and their meanings are: 
1) The Valparaiso University Chapel, which stands for education
2) A church, which stands for religion
3) A tree, which stands for agriculture
4) A machine gear, which stands for industry



 
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