Madison’s Candlelight Tour of Homes

Annual Christmas event offers
a look at private, public stops

By Laurel Sparks
Contributing Writer

MADISON, Ind. (November 2004) – In late November and early December, several downtown Madison private homes and public sites will become the center of attention as part of the annual Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes. The holiday home tour is a major part of the city’s Christmas offerings, drawing hundreds of tourists and locals alike. The event is organized by the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Wooley House

Photo by Laurel Sparks

Deanna Wooley displays a wreath she hangs as part of her Christmas decorations.

This year’s tour will feature five private homes and four public sites. All of the properties are located in the downtown historic district, an area of 133 blocks listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Among the tour stops is the home of Ross and Deanna Wooley, who live at 622 W. Second St. Built around l870, the house has been home to the Wooleys for more than 20 years. Originally, there were only four rooms. But a renovation added the family room, laundry room, half bath and screened-in porch. Now the red brick wall that once formed the back of the house surrounds a wood-burning stove in the kitchen, making this area of the home especially inviting.
The Wooleys’ son Patrick was born in l984 and has never lived any place but “downtown.” Deanna says they once owned a ranch home on Telegraph Hill, but she “always wanted to move downtown where the family could walk to the library, the movie theatre and the riverfront.”
The Wooleys first saw their home when it was decorated for Christmas and were “delighted with it” from that moment.
The Wooley home is attractively decorated year-round, though Christmas trees and extra greenery will be in place for the home tour, Wooley said. On the walls is a great variety of artwork, including originals, prints, photos and fabric art. Both Ross and Deanna are hobbyists. Some of the artwork is Ross’s own, including a pen-and-ink stippling of their home. Deanna has collections of miniature sheep and Mary Alice Hadley Pottery. But her most colorful display is a permanent grouping of Santas, which Deanna has collected over many years.
Libby Mann’s home at 409 W. First St. is another stop on the tour. Mann, who owns and operates the Historic Broadway Hotel & Tavern and the newly opened Livery Stable reception hall next door, plans to decorate her home with lavish Christmas lights.
“I love to put Christmas lights on everything,” said the Mitchell, Ind., native. “My sons, Larry and Ryan, joke that if they stand still long enough, they’ll soon be glowing.”
Mann moved to Madison in 1991 when she bought the tavern and renovated it into what is now a popular downtown restaurant. She lived in one of the eight hotel rooms upstairs for eight years before buying and moving into her house on First Street. Her son, Ryan, now manages the tavern. Mann works at King’s Daughters’ Hospital & Health Services.
Her brick Colonial Revival home was built in 1900 by Joseph Colgate, a furniture store owner. Visitors will be able to tour two of the three floors in addition to the illuminated winter garden.

Sullivan House

Photo provided

A table setting adorns
the Sullivan House,
an HMI property.

Other private residences participating in the tour belong to Dick and Dottie Cummings, 511 Broadway St.; Mike and Tammy McKay, 511 East St.; and owner Mike Flint’s newly opened Lodge Corporate Apartments, 102 W. Main St.
The public sites on this year’ tour include Historic Madison Inc.’s Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House at 304 W. Second St.; the Lanier-Schofield House at 217 W. Second St.; and the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, owned and operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The Schofield House and Lanier Mansion will be open on alternate weekends of the tour, with the Schofield House available Nov. 26-28, and the Lanier Mansion open Dec. 3-5 only.
The 1844 Greek Revival home of James Franklin Doughty Lanier is considered Madison’s busiest tourist attraction. Lanier was an industrialist who helped finance Indiana’s Civil War debt and later moved to New York to pursue a career in international banking. Before leaving Madison, he hired architect Francis Costigan to design and build his mansion along the riverfront.
The mansion and grounds, which encompass 10 acres, remained in the Lanier family until 1917 when it was deeded to the Jefferson County Historical Society. In 1925, the property was turned over to the state of Indiana to ensure its preservation as a historic house museum. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
Judge Jeremiah Sullivan, a native of Virginia, built his Federal-style Madison home in 1818. It is considered this city’s oldest home. The basement kitchen, with its brick floor and stone fireplace, was the “working” kitchen. On the first floor is a serving kitchen restored to demonstrate the furnishings of the early l800s.
The Sullivan House will be decorated using all-natural materials. Greenery will include boxwood, holly, hedge apples and magnolia. Pineapple, traditionally the symbol of southern hospitality, will also be used, along with several other kinds of fresh fruit.
The Lanier-Schofield House was built between 1810 and 1817 and is said to be the first two-story brick inn and tavern in Madison. The predominately Federal house was built by either William Robinson or Alexander Lanier – the records are not clear. There are records suggesting that Alexander and Rosetta Lanier, the parents of James F.D. Lanier, first lived in the house and operated several businesses there. The Lanier-Schofield House is the birthplace of the Indiana Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. On Jan. 12, 1818, 14 Masons representing nine lodges in southern Indiana convened in the upstairs meeting room to draft the constitution for the Grand Lodge of Indiana.
Shortly after James Lanier left, the house lost its connection with the Lanier family. In the 20th century, William Schofield acquired the house, and it stayed in his family until the 1970s. In 1972, the Masonic fraternity bought the house and renovated it.
A special exhibit for this year’s tour will be a 36-doll exhibit from the collection of Madison native Georgina Yunker Wilson at the Jefferson County Historical Society Heritage Museum. The museum is located next door to the tourism office at 615 W. First St.
“The dolls are coming home for Christmas,” said Joe Carr, the historical society’s executive director. Some years after Wilson’s death, her collection of more than 200 dolls became the property of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Now the Indianapolis museum is loaning Madison a selection of the dolls in various sizes and costumes from around the world. In addition to dolls, the display will include antique toys and gingerbread houses.
The home tour is scheduled for Nov. 26-28 and Dec. 3-5. Tickets are available at the Madison Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
To welcome visitors to town, home tour officials have designated three locations to serve as hospitality sites. They are Christ Episcopal Church, the Madison Art Club Gallery and Madison Coffee and Tea Co. All will offer light refreshments and access to restrooms. During the six nights, carolers will visit various properties, and the historical society plans to have the Broadway Fountain decorated and lit by the day after Thanksgiving.

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