Historic Sites Open

Madison Historic sites seek volunteers

Officials gear up for 2005 tourism season

By Don Ward

(April 2005) – April signals the opening of Historic Madison Inc.’s four museum properties and the official start of tourism season in Madison, Ind., and to celebrate, HMI held a volunteer docent orientation Tuesday, March 22 at its John T. Windle Memorial Auditorium.
About 50 people attended the reception, which featured short presentations by representatives from all of the county’s historic properties. Most seek volunteers to work at their properties or during special events. John Staicer, HMI’s executive director, led the session and introduced each speaker. Following is a brief summary:

HMI docent meeting

Photo by Don Ward

Madison city projects administrator
Betsey Vonderheide speaks to the
docent group March 22 at the
John T. Windle Auditorium.

• HMI owns operates and maintains 16 properties. Four are available for tours from April to October and rely on volunteer docents: the Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House, Dr. William D. Hutching’s Office and Hospital, the Francis Costigan House and the Schroeder Saddle Tree Factory and Museum. Staicer announced that local historic property directors planned to revive the combination ticket that will allow people to purchase one discounted ticket to visit several properties. The combo ticket should be available in May at the Visitors Center and at the historic sites. HMI will continue to offer its own combo ticket for the Sullivan and Dr. Hutchings properties. More docents are needed. Call (812) 265-2967.

• Joe Carr, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, asked for more help in staffing the Madison Train Depot museum. He said the society’s docents meet monthly and he announced a series of programs for this year. He said the Gatehouse Museum at the entrance of the Madison State Hospital would again be open this year on a limited basis. Call (812) 265-2335.

• Phyllis Stephens of the Lanier State Historic Site announced that the annual Lanier Days, a celebration of J.F.D. Lanier’s 1840s period, had been moved from May to June 18 this year. The Lanier Home, owned and operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, began charging an entrance fee last September and will continue to do so this year.
The home will be open Friday through Sunday only beginning April 1, and then Tuesday through Sunday beginning May 3. Adult admission is $4, seniors $3.50 (age 60-over) and children $2 (ages 3-12). Group rates are available. Stephens also oversees the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center gift shop and exhibit area inside the tourism office on First Street. Call (812) 265-3526.

• Jae Breitweiser, owner and director of the Historic Eleutherian College, gave a brief history of the property, located in Lancaster just a few miles north of Madison. She described recent developments that will tie the college to the National Park Service’s “Network to Freedom” national Underground Railroad initiative, and to the newly opened National Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Call (812) 273-9434.

• Nancy Gruner, board president of the Madison Main Street Program, announced the nonprofit organization was planning free concerts at the Broadway Fountain on the third Friday of each month in May, June and July, and on the second Friday of August to avoid a conflict with the Madison Ribberfest. Call (812) 265-3270.

• Mel Vonderheide is a paid director of the Lanier-Schofield House and gave a brief history of the structure that is the birthplace of the Indiana Free and Accepted Masons. James F.D. Lanier’s parents once lived there. Call (812) 265-4759.

Also speaking were Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Betsey Vonderheide, representing Madison Mayor Al Huntington, who could not attend.
Lytle announced two new initiatives under way that she hopes will help bring tourists to town: a grant totaling $89,000 to create an Underground Railroad tour featuring the Historic Eleutherian College among other sites, and an Arts Trail being organized by the Ohio River Scenic Byways group that will include Madison.
Vonderheide praised the existence of the new Main Street Comfort Station, which offers restrooms, vending machines and brochure racks for tourists on Main Street.
She said a second comfort station is to be built this summer on the north side of Vaughn Drive at the foot of Central Avenue. It will be part of a longterm plan by the city to develop a band shell and amphitheater on the lot where the Maddox Tobacco Warehouse once stood. Grading of the land will take place this year, but the money has yet to be obtained for the amphitheater.

Back to April 2005 Articles.



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