The city of Huntington has paid tribute to the legacy of Archbishop John F. Noll by renaming an upgraded entrance into the city in his honor.
“I think it’s very appropriate that we recognize the contributions that people in the history of our community have made,” Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters said after a ceremony on Tuesday, July 31, officially opening the Archbishop Noll Memorial Parkway.
The date of the dedication marked the 62nd anniversary of the archbishop’s death.
The thoroughfare, previously known as Business 24, serves as the east entrance to Huntington. It passes in front of Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic publishing company founded by Archbishop Noll in 1912, just two years after his arrival in Huntington as pastor of St. Mary Parish.
The archbishop was also instrumental in the location of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters in Huntington, and the sisters’ motherhouse is named Victory Noll in his honor.
Archbishop Noll served as bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne from 1925 until his death in 1956. He became influential as a national leader, but that did not diminish his influence in Huntington.
“He was an entrepreneurial pioneer spiritual leader of our community,” the mayor said. “It was appropriate to recognize the contributions of this man to our community, as a citizen, as a spiritual leader, as a person who built businesses in our community that are still here today. They’ve stood the test of time.”
“This parkway is not only a great honor to Archbishop Noll and his legacy — and it’s fantastic to have some of his family here with us — but it will also serve us well for many years to come,” said Kyle Hamilton, president and CEO of Our Sunday Visitor, during the ceremony.
The archbishop’s extended family — including great-niece Karen Schafbuch and great-great-nephew Kevin Noll, both of Fort Wayne — were among those in attendance.
The revitalized parkway includes a path for walkers, runners and bicyclists, which will promote health and wellness in the community, Hamilton said. The parkway also will serve as a favorable first impression for people visiting Huntington, he added.
Archbishop Noll is indirectly memorialized in another part of Huntington, Hamilton noted.
“Father Noll, later Archbishop Noll, was very involved in the community, and he joined Rotary with special permission from his bishop as the local chapter was formed here in Huntington,” he noted. “I think it’s interesting that Rotary Park, another beautiful addition not too long ago finished by the city, sits on the first site of Our Sunday Visitor — the site where he started the newspaper, with that famous printing press that he bought for a dollar, in downtown Huntington.”
“This, of course, for Our Sunday Visitor is a very important day because it honors our founder,” said Msgr. Owen Campion, a former editor and current columnist at Our Sunday Visitor.
“But it has another significance, this occasion. And that, I think, is really celebrating a relationship that has been going on for a really long time — the relationship between Our Sunday Visitor and the community of Huntington.
“Another thing, I think, that is very significant about Archbishop Noll’s biography, is his outreach. He was something of a pioneer, actually, here in Huntington; but not only here, but in a broader perspective, because of his friendship with many Protestant communions and congregations here. So, we want to sustain that.
“And finally, I think it’s very typical that a thoroughfare be named in his honor because it sort of represents outreach to people beyond Huntington and their coming to us.”
Fetters noted that the newly named road has been “a prominent pathway since the earliest record of time … There have been Indian trails, canoes, canal boats, railroads, interurbans, automobiles and trucks. This corridor is the east face of Huntington.”
The renaming of Archbishop Noll Memorial Parkway followed an improvement project that included a redesign of the road, improved drainage and paving, as well as the addition of an 8-foot-wide asphalt strip alongside the road for walkers, runners and bicycle riders, said Anthony Goodnight, director of public works and engineering services for the city of Huntington.
The $1.7 million project, which was paid for by the city with the help of a $670,000 state grant, had been under construction since March.
Still to come are about 30 trees to be planted in the parkway and the addition of signs bearing the name Archbishop Noll Memorial Parkway with the archbishop’s photo and coat of arms, along with signs explaining the history of the area.
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