National Trust Conference

Madison gears up to play host
to National Trust conference

Participants will spend one day here
touring historic sites

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (September 2004) – In 1997, the law office of Eckert, Alcorn, Goering & Sage, located at 1 W. Sixth St. in downtown Madison, Ind., received a first place award from the Indiana Main Street Council for an “adaptive use project.”

Joe Karnen

Photo by Ruth Wright

Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan (center) paid a brief visit July 30 to the African Methodist Episcopal Church at 309 E. Fifth St. in downtown Madison. He was given a tour of the restoration project by John Staicer (right), president of Historic Madison Inc., which owns the building. Also meeting the governor was State Rep. Markt Lytle (left), along with other local dignitaries. In 2003, HMI received a $99,000 matching grant to use in converting the church into an African-American interpretive center to explore Madison’s connection to the Underground Railroad.

The award, presented annually during the state conference at the council’s Downtown Revitalization Awards ceremony, recognizes projects that bring new use to buildings while maintaining their architectural characteristics and historic integrity. The firm also received in 1997 first place in the American Bar Association Journal’s Law Office Design Competition for “Adaptive Re-Use.”
The law office will be among sites visited during a field tour of Madison on Friday, Oct. 1, as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 26th annual National Preservation Conference. The conference, “Restore America: Communities at a Crossroads,” is scheduled for Sept. 28 through Oct. 3 in Louisville, Ky.
It “will explore the role historic preservation continues to play in preservation real estate development, affordable housing, heritage tourism, smart growth, cultural landscapes, appreciation of the recent past and the protection of diverse historic sites.”
About 1,800 people attended last year’s conference, held in Denver.
“We look for places to hold the national conference that have a lot to offer in all realms of preservation,” said National Trust spokesperson Jeannie McPherson. Louisville, known for its historic neighborhoods, distinctive landscapes and vital commercial areas, and southern Indiana “are ideal locations for exploring priority issues and strategies in historic preservation,” said National Trust president Richard Moe.
The conference will feature educational sessions covering a wide range of topics and experience levels, opportunities for preservationists to network with leaders in the preservation movement and unique field sessions exploring the region.
Madison is one of three Indiana cities, including Columbus, New Albany and West Baden Springs, chosen for field tours during the conference. “We try to chose places that have a good historic core and exceptional opportunities for conference participants to experience and learn from,” said McPherson.
A visit to Madison will be of particular interest to conference attendees because it is one of three cities involved in the original pilot Main Street Program instituted by the National Trust in 1976. Galesburg, Ill., and Hot Springs, S.D., also were part of the original Main Street program, which ultimately spawned a nationwide initiative to spur downtown revitalization. From the program was developed a four-point approach to Main Street efforts: organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring.
“The lessons learned about Madison have had an impact on thousands of other Main Street programs now in existence across the country,” said John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison Inc.
HMI, along with the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Madison and others, has since last year been preparing for the National Trust field tour. More than 50 visitors are expected.
Following a welcome and orientation at the library, tour participants will be treated to a trolley ride through downtown, a trip to the Visitor’s Center and Lanier Mansion. After lunch at the Eckert, Alcorn, Goering & Sage office, they will visit several Madison HMI properties, including the Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum, the Francis Costigan House and the Shrewsbury-Windle House. The visitors also will take a walking tour along Main Street and will be allowed free time for shopping.
“It’s a very busy day,” said Stacier.
About 2,000 are expected to converge in Louisville for the National Trust conference. “This is the major preservation conference in the country,” said Stacier. HMI, the Madison Area CVB and the Lanier State Historic Site will sponsor a booth at the conference.
In addition to playing host to a field session during the National Trust conference, Madison on Oct. 28-30 will play host to the first joint meeting of the Cornelius O’Brien Conference on Historic Preservation and the Indiana Main Street annual conference.
The state conference will feature presentations by local, regional and national experts on various topics of historic preservation, archaeology and Main Street issues. As many as 300 people are expected to attend.

• Registration for the National Preservation Conference in Louisville is open until Sept. 23 at a discounted rate and also will be accepted at the conference. For more information, visit: www.nthpconference.org or call 1-800-944-6847.

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