Madison in Bloom

Spring ushers in Madison garden tour


MADISON, IN – Sometimes it seems like spring will never arrive.
But fortunately, the annual "Madison in Bloom" garden tour helps ease the transition by providing residents and visitors a chance to shake off the winter blahs and enjoy the beauty of the season.

Dorothy Cash & Linda Philips

Photo Don Ward

Madison residents Dorothy Cash
(left) and Linda Phillips research
information about Volga School at
the Jefferson County Research
Library and Archives. The two plan
to use the information for a display
at their June 13 school reunion.

And this year's event will be even more colorful with the addition of exhibits by local artists.
Artists from the Madison Art Guild and the Plein Aire outdoor painters will display their work around the old railroad station on the museum grounds during both weekends of the garden tours – April 24-25 and May 1-2. In addition, artists will be painting on site at the eight gardens.
"We're trying to make it bigger and better each year," said coordinator Joe Carr, who also is the director of the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, 615 W. First St.
Carr's own home on West Third Street is among those on the tour list. In fact, visitors must walk through Carr's home to get to his secluded garden in back.
Another addition this year are free walk-by tours at three locations – the Lanthier Winery, 123 Mill Street; Frank and Carolyn Gunter's home at 211 W. Second St.; and Christ Episcopal Church, 506 Mulberry St., where workers have been restoring the stained glass windows.
The event is one of several ways the museum generates operating money, Carr said. Other sources of revenue include private endowments, annual membership dues and museum admission fees.
"We're really excited about this year's event, and I think the artists will add a lot of flavor," Carr said.

History in the making

It wasn't long ago that the historical society was nothing more than a pile of boxes and artifacts crammed into a meager storage building on a back street in Madison. For years, there was little money available and limited public viewing of the collection.
"The society dates back to 1850, but there have been many ups and downs over the years, and some periods where it ceased to exist," Carr said.

1999 Spring Garden Tour

Sponsored by the Jefferson County Historical Society
April 24-25 and May 1-2
Saturday 10-4
Sunday Noon-4
(Slow time)
$7 in advance
$9 after April 9
Children under 12 free
Tickets available at the Historical Society Museum, 615 W. First St. and the Madison Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 301 E. Main St.
Information: (812) 265-2335

Homes on the Tour

• Joseph D. Carr, 111 W. third St.
• Gary Guarino and Nancy Harper, 1026 W. Main St.
• Bill Edwards, 620 W. Second St.
• Jerry Richert, 711 E. First St.
• Sharon Thompson, 216 E. First St.
• L.S. and Cynthia Thurman, 711 E. Second St.
• Evan Sommerfield, 113 E. Second St.
• River Cottage, Gerry Michl, 202 Shamrock Lane

Finally in the mid-1980s, things slowly began to happen. The society purchased the railroad station on First Street with plans to restore it as part of an eventual museum. In 1987, Carr was hired to serve as the new museum's director.
A Louisville, Ky., native who had spent the previous 10 years in Washington, D.C. – the last five working on the White House staff – Carr suddenly found himself in charge of a small, private, nonprofit organization that was $50,000 in debt and had fewer than 100 members.
Carr and others quickly got to work with fundraising activities and membership drives. The results are evident today on First Street, just a block west of the Lanier Mansion.
Armed with 550 members and $150,000 in endowments, raised primarily from local sources, Phase I of the Historical Society Museum opened in 1992; the railroad station was restored in 1995; and Phase II of the museum opens April 10, preceded by a reception for members on April 9. The museum will waive its $3 admission fee April 10-11 as part of the grand opening of the west wing. Currently, historical exhibits about the county's Civil War activities, river traffic and industry are available for public viewing in the east wing. Last year's attendance topped 14,500.
An exhibit of Evan Sommerfield's private collection of Indiana coverlets (woven fabrics) will be displayed when the west wing opens in mid-April. The 40-item collection represents work by German, Scottish, Irish and English professional weavers using jacquard looms. They migrated to Indiana, where they lived and practiced their craft between 1838 and 1874 after leaving their homelands, primarily because of the Industrial Revolution.
"Our longterm plan is to put our permanent exhibits in the new gallery, but the coverlets will be there until this time next year," Carr said.
The museum needs to raise $65,000 to fund the professional design of a computerized, interactive exhibit room for school groups and adults. Carr said he hopes such an exhibit will be ready for viewing by the summer of 2000.

Keeping a record

The building also incorporates the Jefferson County Historical Society's Research Library and Archives, located on the far west side.
Volunteers moved dozens of boxes of documents, maps and photographs into their new home in mid-February. The archives includes many city, county and genealogical documents that are available for public viewing, though the operating hours are limited to two days a week, except by appointment.
"Everybody's got a story to tell, and it's really amazing what all we do have here," said volunteer Lee Rogers.
The collection includes such things as property records, original road building plans and many handwritten government documents, according to volunteer Ron Grimes. He added that the library needs more volunteers.
"It's a lot of painstaking, time-consuming work," Grimes said. "But you're working with lots of interesting stuff, and if you're into local history, it's fun."

Back to April 1999 Articles.



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