MADISON, Ind. (July 2004) An ongoing project to reconstruct
a carriage house and summer kitchen at the Lanier Mansion State Historic
Site recently received a nudge in the right direction. The private,
anonymous donor foundation that originally gave $250,000 to the project
has offered additional funding of up to $125,000 on a one-to-one matching
basis. The funding is needed to complete as planned the interior of
the structure and to produce exhibits and programming.
by Don Ward
newly erected carriage house
sits next to the Lanier Mansion
in downtown Madison.
Construction of the exterior of the carriage house began early this
year and was mostly completed by mid-May. The building now stands
over the remains of the original carriage house and summer kitchen,
which have been carefully excavated, analyzed and preserved over the
past 13 years. Leading much of the excavation project has been Bill
Wepler, curator of Historical Archaeology of the Indiana State Museum.
The excavated site includes part of a brick foundation and evidence
of two conjoined rooms, a summer kitchen and carriage house, which
were believed to have been constructed in the 1830s to serve James
Laniers original dwelling. The original Lanier home was built
between 1825 and 1831 and, according to newspaper advertisements offering
for sale scrap materials from the home, was demolished around 1865.
Available evidence suggests that the group of buildings which included
the summer kitchen and carriage house remained for several years after
the original house was demolished. It is thought that they were torn
down around 1900.
Minimal graphic documentation, including a few maps and lithographs,
as well as clues from the original foundation regarding the placement
of doors and latrine pits were used to piece together what is believed
to be an accurate interpretation of how the exterior of the carriage
house originally looked. Our intent was to make it as accurate
as we could possibly make it, said historic site manager Link
Ludington. We were able to piece together what the original
building would have looked like even though we dont have actual
photographs showing what it looked like before it was torn down.
by Don Ward
Ludington of Lanier Mansion Historic Site.
The interior of the structure will not be a replica of the original
but will instead include the archeological dig site and an interpretive
center with exhibits including artifacts found during excavation of
the site. These include various pieces of kitchen-related items including
glass and ceramic containers and animal remains.
Educational programming will center around interpretation of archaeological
features of the site and the insight they provide into life there
in the 1800s. Excavated areas open for viewing will include the privy,
kitchen area and a profile showing site stratigraphy spanning the
period from before the buildings were constructed to the paving of
the modern asphalt driveway.
After all is said and done, the total cost of the project will be
in the neighborhood of a half million dollars. The private foundation
offering the addition $125,000 has given until November for matching
funds to be raised. If were successful in raising the
amount of money we need to do the interior and install exhibits, develop
programming and have program staff in place, the state will cover
the utility costs and security system once its open, said
Ludington, who will work with the Lanier Mansion Association and Indiana
State Museum personnel to raise the funds. The money would allow the
building to be opened to the public as early as next spring.
Anyone interested in learning more about the project or
contributing to its completion can contact Ludington at (812) 265-3526.