WARSAW — The new courthouse square in downtown Warsaw is built primarily out of cement and brick, but it feels more like a magnet.
The new plaza on the southeast corner of the courthouse includes a decorative brick walkway and a long stretch of cement seats along a curving outer wall. Picnic tables have been added. Large landscaping pots full of flowers sit at two corners of the plaza.
Construction of the plaza wrapped up about four weeks ago and is already a drawing card at First Friday, the downtown festival that happens once a month.
In fact, the bona fide gathering area will likely become the epicenter of activities at the monthly Friday night festival. Hundreds gathered on the plaza over the course of a few hours Friday night, July 5, lured by free hotdogs, watermelon and a nice place to sit.
“This is what it’s supposed to be like,” said Paula Bowman, First Friday coordinator, about the buzz of activity in the plaza.
The project was a cooperative effort between the county and Warsaw Community Development Corp., which sought private funding through patronicity.com, and then used that to gain a matching grant from Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to fund the project. Total cost is expected to be around $60,000.
The corner has also become a staging area for a noontime food stand organized by Jason Brown, owner of One Ten Craft Meatery, a restaurant and catering business on North Buffalo Street, across from the courthouse.
The One Ten Patio Pop Up offers grilled hamburger and brats from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
Brown started the food stand a few weeks ago and moved it to the courthouse square last week.
“We’re really just trying to get foot traffic in the downtown,” Brown said. “Summertime is beautiful. We have a really gorgeous downtown. Why not get people out and about?”
Brown said he’d like to work with other restauranteurs to have others host food stands in the future.
If the businesses work together, he said he could envision food stands or food trucks using the corner more often. He even threw out the notion of having numerous food trucks gather nearby once a month.
“I’m looking for others,” Brown said. “This is not a proprietary thing at all.”
At one point, more than a dozen people were either seated and others were in line to buy lunch last Friday. Among those seated at a picnic table were five women from Indianapolis. They were from the state supreme court office and were working in Warsaw with local court offices.
“It’s a nice lunch spot,” said one woman who declined to give her name because of her job. “The courthouse is beautiful.”