Historic hit

Violent windstorm severely
damages historic Sullivan House

Historic Madison Inc.
says restoration will be costly

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(October 2008) – In 1818, attorney Jeremiah Sullivan had a mansion built at 324 W. Second St., in Madison, Ind., which experts claim is one of the best examples in the Northwest Territories of Federal style architecture. For nearly two centuries, the home has stood elegantly despite being threatened by floods, tornadoes and other perilous weather events. That is, until hurricane-like winds swept through the Ohio River Valley and severely damaged the historic landmark.

Sullivan House

Photo by Don Ward

The historic Jeremiah Sullivan
House, one of Historic Madison Inc.’s
properties, sustained extensive damage
following a Sept. 14 windstorm.

On Sunday, Sept. 14, strong winds, with gusts exceeding 70 mph, ravaged the landscape of Jefferson County, Ind., and neighboring cities and towns. Thousands of old, stately trees were uprooted or snapped in half, and hundreds of thousands of people were left in the dark as electric poles were snapped. Generators were blown and power lines were brought down.
The Sullivan House, one of the 16 historic properties owned by Historic Madison Inc., was severely damaged when a tree shattered a portion of the roof and collapsed the east wall of the mansion. Two chimneys along the wall were also severely damaged.
“While the damage is extensive, it is repairable,” said HMI’s Heidi Valco Kruggel. “We are working on a temporary stabilization at this point, and once we know the extent of the damage, we will begin taking bids for the actual restoration on the home.”
An architectural engineer from Indianapolis-based Ratio Architects came to the site to survey the damage and concluded that the “foundation is stable,” said Kruggel.
No timeline has been set as to when the actual restoration will begin or what it will cost. “We estimate that repairs may run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Kruggel. “We are looking at different resources and options for how to finance the restoration.”
Madison-based Artful Living Co., 313 W. Main St., is in charge of the temporary stabilization. Brian Martin, an architectural designer and construction manager at Artful Living, said his crew has been working with HMI in an effort to make sure the cleanup and salvage work on the property are done correctly. “Right now, things look like an archaeological dig,” he said. “We want to salvage any bricks, glass and wood that can be used for the actual restoration or for use as samples for later educational purposes.”
Among the work his crew is doing is to set up scaffolding along the damaged wall to shore up support, carefully clean debris out of the building, and secure the tarp that is protecting the roof. “We are cataloging everything we find,” he said.
His team is also going to construct a temporary wall to close the interior of the building off. “We are working as hard as we can because we are concerned about the interior being exposed to harmful weather, animals or other problems.”
He said many of the interior furnishings have been removed from the property to assess for damage and for safekeeping during the restoration process.
Artful Living Co hopes to also bid on the actual restoration process when HMI gets a better assessment on exactly how extensive the situation is and what needs to be done.
The Sullivan house is a two-story brick, Federal style dwelling that exhibits fine delicate tapered reeded columns between the entrance door and sidelights, and an elliptical fanlight above.
The interior is furnished in period furnishings. The basement kitchen with brick floor and stone fireplace is furnished in period and demonstrates a typical Madison kitchen of the time. On the first floor is a restored federal serving kitchen, the rear yard contains an interpretation of a period bake oven and smokehouse.

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