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Meet a Member: Historic Madison, Inc.

by Hannah Hethmon, AASLH on

Meet a Member is a biweekly blog series spotlighting our members. AASLH has 5,500 fascinating members working hard for the field of history, and we want to show them off. Each month we feature one individual and one organization.

 

Historic Madison, Inc. (HMI):

Member of AASLH since 1983

Tell us about HMI.

Historic Madison, Inc. is a not-for-profit historic preservation organization. HMI owns, operates and maintains 15 historic properties in Madison, Indiana. We play a leading role in the preservation of one of America’s largest National Historic Landmark Districts. We have 4 museum properties: the Jeremiah Sullivan House, the Dr. Hutchings Office and

School group outside Dr. Hutchings Office and Hospital.

School group outside Dr. Hutchings Office and Hospital

Hospital, the Francis Costigan House, and the Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum (2003 AASLH Award of Merit winner, 2004 National Trust Honor Award winner). The Shrewsbury-Windle House is our 5th museum property, currently in development. We have also rehabilitated an 1850 African Methodist Episcopal church building, one of the oldest of its kind in the US, as a memorial to Madison’s nationally significant Underground Railroad heritage. Property owners, including governmental agencies, businesses, organizations and individuals often consult HMI on preservation related issues.

HMI has been in the forefront of preserving Madison’s nationally significant collection of architectural treasures since 1960. We hosted one of the three pilot Main Street Projects (1976-1980), and coordinated and led the drive to have our historic district designated a National Historic Landmark (133 blocks- one of the largest in the US) in 2006.

 

Tell us about your staff and volunteers.

Four full-time, four part-time/seasonal staff, and 100 volunteers, including a 16 member volunteer board of directors.

 

Freestanding sprial staircase in the Shrewsbury-Windle House.

Freestanding sprial staircase in the Shrewsbury-Windle House

What does an AASLH membership mean for HMI? How has the organization benefited from its AASLH membership?

HMI has been a long-time member of AASLH.  We’ve enjoyed a warm relationship with the Association.   Correspondence exists between our founder, John T. Windle and AASLH in the late 1950s as the idea for a preservation organization in Madison was beginning to gel.  Our organization has benefitted from the many programs, conferences, and publications of AASLH. Perhaps most important have been the people who make AASLH such a critical institution by focusing on the local and state history that most of us come into contact with each day.

 

Why is history important to your organization?

HMI’s vision statement, “Enriching our community’s future by valuing our past,” says it all.  Madison is a nationally significant historic town.  By re-purposing our historic buildings for current and future uses, history becomes interwoven with everyday life.  Preserving and celebrating our heritage is an important part of our community’s economic development strategy.

 

What is happening or upcoming at HMI?

HMI has a number of initiatives underway at this time.  Most significant is the Campaign for Historic Madison, Inc. a $2.5 million effort to fund a major rehabilitation of the 1849 Shrewsbury-Windle House National Historic Landmark (6,000 sq. ft.) and to renovate an adjacent historic property for our offices.

Woodworking shop at the Saddletree Factory Musem

Woodworking shop at the Schroeder Saddletree Factory Musem

HMI completed a self-funded $550,000 exterior rehabilitation of the Shrewsbury-Windle House in the fall of 2014.  In 2016, with the help of our many generous donors, we will rehabilitate the interior of the Shrewsbury-Windle House so it can once again be opened for tours as well as for non-traditional programming including meetings, special events, weddings and more.

Recently we partnered with our local Habitat for Humanity to warehouse and sell our stockpile of architectural salvage.  This partnership has been a great benefit to both organizations.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share about your organization?

HMI has had received many awards and recognitions, including:

  • Madison, Indiana has a special travel itinerary posted on the National Park Service website due to its amazing intact architectural heritage.
  • The Historic American Building Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record of the National Park Service have documented more than 43 historic sites and structures in Madison’s National Landmark District.
  • First Lady Laura Bush designated Madison as Indiana’s first Preserve America Community in 2004, with the presentation made by representatives from the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • The 1958 film Some Came Running, directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring “Rat Pack” members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacLaine was shot in Madison.
  • Also shot in Madison was The Town (see below), a 13 minute propaganda film produced by the US government (Office of War Information) in 1943. It was translated into 12 languages and was shown worldwide to illustrate life in a typical American town.

 

These answers, given by John Staicer, President & Executive Director of HMI, were edited for length and clarity. Want to be featured? Email Hannah Hethmon to learn more. Click here to read about more featured members. Click here to learn more about an AASLH Institutional Membership.

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