moves one step closer
to National Landmark District status
(May 2005) The effort to designate a portion
of Madison as a National Historic Landmark District moved another step
closer to reality in April when a committee of the National Park Service
Advisory Board approved the Madison National Historic Landmark District
nomination in Washington, D.C., by a unanimous vote.
The committee is made up of historians from across the country and had
been considering the nomination among several others submitted.
William J. Murtagh, one of the committee members, and
the first Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places has been
to Madison and gave the city a glowing report. Madison is one
of those special places you never forget, Murtagh said.
The National Park Service Advisory Board will review the Madison National
Historic Landmark District nomination at a meeting later this year.
If approved, the Advisory Board will send the nomination to the Secretary
of the Interior for signing to make the designation official.
The overwhelming number of letters in support of Madisons nomination
proved a factor in the committtees decision, said John Stacier,
executive director of Historic Madison Inc., and a member of the team
presenting the nomination. More than 700 hundred letters of support
were received from property owners, citizens, organizations, historians
and elected officials, he said. This overwhelming display of public
support is deeply gratifying and helped carry the day, Staicer
Susan Escherich, a historian for the National Park Service, presented
an overview of Madison aided by digital photos and brief video clips
from the 1943 movie The Town, filmed in Madison by the U.S.
government and shown throughout the world. The movie and current photos
were shown side-by-side to illustrate the extent to which Madisonians
have preserved and restored our amazing stock of historic architecture.
Camille Fife, president of the Westerly Group that wrote the nomination
on behalf of the community, discussed her support for the nomination
as a property owner. The Westerly Group created the digital images,
including the film clips from The Town for the presentation.
Historic Madison Inc. undertook the nomination in 2001 through a unique
public-private partnership supported by grants from the Jefferson County
Commissioners, though its Historic Preservation Advisory Committee,
the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation
and Archaeology, and the National Park Services Midwest Regional
National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places
designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional
value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the
United States. Fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction,
and only 36 are in Indiana. Three National Historic Landmarks in Jefferson
County are the Shrewsberry-Windle House and the J.F.D. Lanier State
Historic Site, both in Madison, and the Eleutherian College in nearby
There are only two National Historic Landmark Districts in the State
of Indiana the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis
and New Harmony Historic District in New Harmony. The Madison Landmark
District, if approved, would be the largest in the nation, including
more than 2,000 properties in Madisons historic downtown area.
National Historic Land-marks designation recognizes properties that
are important to the entire nation. Owners of National Historic Landmarks
are free to manage their property as they choose, provided no federal
license, permit or funding is involved. Owners of National Historic
Landmarks may be able to obtain federal historic preservation funding
when funds are available. Federal investment tax credits may apply.
A bronze plaque bearing the name of the National Historic Landmark and
attesting to its national significance is presented to the owner upon
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