Southern Indiana Living

MAR-APR 2014

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Story & Photos // Loren Haverstock W hen most people think of Marengo Cave they picture the U.S. National Landmark, but less than a mile down the road is another cave of a whole diferent sort, the Marengo Warehouse. For decades rumors have swirled through the town of Marengo at the mere mention of its underground warehouse, and in a town with less than 1,000 residents, it cer- tainly doesn't take long for word to spread. The Marengo Warehouse, located behind a secure entrance in the side of a mountain, contains miles of vast caverns and tunnels and is able to store just about anything. The contents of those tunnels are the source of much intrigue by locals, curious as to what is being held be- hind those thick limestone walls. Much of the mystery can be at- tributed to the fact that the ware- house has never advertised or marketed itself to the public. Yet it remains a center of economic stability in a county with few opportunities. The warehouse is family owned and op- erated by Brian Venturi and his wife Mitzie. Brian's father, Robert Venturi, founded the company over two decades ago. The warehouse got its start as a limestone quarry, but when the economy shifted and larger quarries controlled much of the business, the Venturi family realized they needed a new plan. Robert Venturi had heard talk of underground storage facilities in Kansas City that were popular with large com- mercial interests. He studied the structures and their layouts and saw an opportunity in his Marengo quarry that might have staying power. Unlike the Kansas City set ups, the Marengo land was mostly lime- stone, not sandstone, and there were no water issues or leaks to be seen. Thus the plans for the ware- house were laid and so began a ma- jor business for the small southern Indiana town. Today the warehouse is at capaci- ty, and with 75 employees, business is booming. When you enter the fa- cility's ofce structure, you literally walk into the side of a mountain. At frst glance the room is expansive, but has many similarities to any other ofce building: dry walled, boxy ofces thick with the smell of fresh cofee. As you step further in to the receptionist's desk, your at- tention is pulled to the carved lime- stone walls and ceiling, a constant reminder that this warehouse is like no other around. Upon entering President Brian Venturi's ofce, a color coded map of the warehouse layout impressively adorns the wall. Although all available space is currently occupied, the Venturi family has planned vast ex- pansions, more than doubling the current occupancy. There is also some interest in opening a public attraction of some sort. "We have always been a privately held company, dealing solely with other companies, but we would like to ofer something to the public, ei- ther above or below ground. We have 100 acres underground and 250 acres above ground and we would like to do something with it," Brian stated. So exactly what is being stored in the underground tunnels of the warehouse? Conspiracy theorists will likely be disappointed to fnd there are no government secrets or cover ups (that we can talk about, at least). A past rumor involved the Center for Disease Control storing supplies in the facility, but when asked, Mr. Venturi reported that the only government property being stored are military MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). To further put rumors to rest, Mr. Venturi explained that there is absolutely no hazardous material permitted within the warehouse. Additionally, precautions are taken to main- tain barriers between products of separate companies to pre- vent any type of cross contamination happening, especially with food products. If space is being shared, both companies are notifed and both must sign waivers. One of the most impressive sections of the warehouse is the freezer section. Here there are large containers flled with fruit from all over the world. "We maintain a 23 million pound inventory of frozen fruits year round. We get fruit from all over the world. We • 17 "We maintain a 23 million pound inventory of frozen fruits year round. We get fruit from all over the world. We get blackberries from the Himalaya's that are as big as a thumb and taste like they have sugar on them." -Brian Venturi, Marengo Warehouse owner MarchApril 2014.indd 17 2/23/14 8:36 PM

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