Eye on preservation

Indiana Historic Preservation
official to speak in Madison

Davis to discuss ideas for capitalizing
on city’s Landmark District designation

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(February 2007) – In spring 2006, Madison, Ind.’s downtown district received the National Park Service’s prestigious National Historic Landmark District designation. City officials and leaders involved in the process were delighted to be on this rare list.
At that time, however, not many people realized that a review process is conducted every two years by the National Park Service, and if communities do not live up to the requirements of the designation, they can lose their status, said Cornerstone Society President Rich Murray.

Marsh Davis

Marsh Davis

That will be one of the topics that Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana President Marsh Davis plans to discuss when he comes to Madison in February. Davis will speak at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library, 420 W. Main St. The event is free and open to the public.
Davis was hired in July 2006 as the Indiana organization’s new president. He had previously worked for Historic Landmarks of Indiana for 18 years before leaving in 2002 to run the Galveston (Texas) Historical Foundation, the largest preservation organization in that state.
Davis attended last year’s city-wide celebration of Madison’s National Landmark District designation in a reception held at the Livery Stable and organized by HMI. He had just taken over his new post in Indianapolis.
During his long career at Historic Landmarks of Indiana, he managed to save many historic structures and enlisted a host of friends for the organization and preservation efforts throughout Indiana.
However, it was his work in Galveston that won him the coveted position at the Indiana organization, which is the largest statewide preservation organization in the nation.
Davis proved in Texas that he is a hands-on leader who can raise money and manage a large professional staff.
Cornerstone Society, a group dedicated to historic preservation in Madison, is sponsoring Davis’ visit to Madison. Two years ago, Davis spoke at the Historic Madison Inc.’s annual banquet. At that time, he was in charge of the Galveston Historical Foundation. He made a statement about how the city was in fear of losing its National Landmark District designation and how it almost did lose the status.
“It was at that point I realized we don’t want to be the first to lose such a historical designation,” Murray said.
Murray added that although Madison is richly endowed with historic resources, the historic community and city leadership need to be more proactive in efforts to preserve what it has.
“We need to take this more seriously. What we have, we have by chance. We don’t want to leave this to chance any longer,” he said.
Davis is scheduled to address this issue and other preservation topics during his return to Madison. In a January telephone interview, he said he will discuss the significance of the designation, not only in historical terms, but in economic and aesthetic terms as well, on the quality of life in Madison.
The Cornerstone Society is an organization in Madison that actively promotes preservation of historic structures. It was formed in 1988 in response to threats of historic building demolitions in downtown Madison.

• For more information about Cornerstone, call (812) 273-1123.

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