as a National Historic Landmark DIstrict
Interior Acting Secretary tours town
before announcing the news
(May 2006) U.S. government officials in Washington,
D.C., are learning what preservationists in Madison, Ind., already
knew that the historic downtown is full of unique architectural
gems that still stand today as a tribute to its past.
by Don Ward
Acting Interior Secretary
P. Lynn Scarlett presents the National
Historic Landmark District Award to Madison Mayor Al Huntington
are U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel and
HMI Board President Merritt Alcorn.
Now that message will be communicated to the world via
the city's designation as a National Historic Landmark District, thereby
joining an elite list of only about 2,000 properties (only a small percentage
are districts) in the country. The U.S. Interior Department's Acting
Secretary P. Lynn Scarlett on April 12 announced the city's prestigious
designation during a ceremony held at the Broadway Fountain. She was
joined by more than 150 people and a group of Eggleston Elementary School
children from Historic Madison Inc.'s Junior Preservation League to
mark the occasion, which featured a number of speeches by local dignitaries.
The historic district comprises most of the downtown, about 2,000 acres
and more than 1,600 historic structures built between 1817-1939 and
representing Federal, Greek Revival Italianate and other styles.
Earlier in the day, Scarlett toured the city aboard the Madison Trolley,
along with host Madison Mayor Al Huntington, U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel,
R.-New Albany, Indiana Department of Natural Resources director Kyle
Hupfer, State Sen. Jim Lewis and other state and local officials.
Scarlett has served as Assistant Secretary since July 2001. She became
Acting Secretary April 1 when Secretary Gale Norton resigned her post.
President George W. Bush in March nominated former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne
as the new secretary.
During her remarks, Scarlett recalled some of the various historic sites
she saw on the tour and praised residents for their efforts in preserving
and maintaining its historic buildings, making the area a "living
history" that still functions economically while providing a high
quality of life.
The designation is for "not just one building, not just one home,
but the entire community," Scarlett said. "Every community
has stories to tell, but what is so wonderful about Madison is that
you can still feel and see those stories because you still have these
buildings that are 100 and 200 years past."
Scarlett said Madison has linked historic preservation with economic
prosperity by "keeping it vibrant and active as you restore the
past." She said Madison "embodies
Huntington praised Historic Madison Inc. for its work in initiating
the application process to earn the designation, adding, "Our city
is not just a museum, but a vibrant place to live and work." He
continued, "This marks a great day in the rich history of Madison.
In addition to state and regional attention, we can now enjoy elite
national recognition on the same level as Savannah (Ga.) and Charleston
Hupfer, speaking on behalf of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, said the state
would "continue to play a strong role in Madison's future through
the operation of the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site and Clifty Falls
State Park." He noted the recent hotel renovation at Clifty Inn,
which had been celebrated the previous Friday with a grand opening event.
And he predicted that the governor's recently approved "Major Moves"
initiative would soon generate enough money to help build a future Ohio
River bridge in Madison.
is a National
Historic Landmark District?
National Historic Landmarks are exceptional places that form a common
bond between all Americans. They can be found in our national parks
and in communities in every state and territory. Through the National
Historic Landmarks Program, the National Park Service oversees the
designation of these special places and helps to preserve them.
Today, there are about 76,000 sites listed on the National Register
of Historic Places.
National Historic Landmark Districts, meanwhile, are even more prestigious,
with only about 2,000 so designated in the United States. To be
so recognized, they must survive a rigorous application process
by a National Park Service committee in Washington, D.C. The committee
is comprised of archaeologists, historians, architects and other
experts, according to U.S. Interior Department Acting Secretary
P. Lynn Scarlett. From there, a recommendation is made to the park
service's advisory board, then on to the Secretary of the Interior
for final approval.
Scarlett said former Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed off on
the recent batch of designation recommendations, including Madison's,
just prior to her departure March 31.
HMI Executive Director John Staicer credited The Westerly
Group for its consulting work on the application process for the national
designation. He said the recognition "is the culmination of the
dream of John Windle, founder of Historic Madison Inc., and it fulfills
the dream of many people and many organizations, including property
owners, residents, government agencies and nonprofit groups who have
worked many years to make this dream a reality."
The application process began in 1999 and cost about $45,000, Staicer
said. The process included about 600 letters written and submitted on
behalf of the city. HMI provided some money but Staicer said most of
the cost was covered from three sources: the Jefferson County Commissioners'
Historic Preservation Fund; the Indiana Department of Natural Resources'
Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology; and the National
After the ceremony, Scarlett met with reporters to elaborate on the
impact this recognition poses for Madison. She said that based on studies
of other cities that have earned the honor, Madison can expect a better
chance of success when applying for future grant money through programs
such as Preserve America or Save America's Treasures. Preserve America,
initiated by President Bush in 2002, identifies more than 300 American
cities to be eligible for grants totaling $10 million over two years.
Madison was the first Indiana city to be so recognized. Scarlett also
mentioned a historic preservation tax incentive program that has resulted
in $3 billion in incentives since its inception. The program offers
rewards for turning old buildings into useable housing or by creating
"Cooperative conservation is how we do the programs, and you embody
cooperative conservation," she said.
by Don Ward
Scarlett shares a moment with school children following the award
HMI already has received $99,000 in grant money from Save
America's Treasures fund to create a museum at the former A.M.E. Church
in the Georgetown area of downtown. Staicer said additional grant applications
are in progress for additional projects. Historic Eleutherian College,
meanwhile, is working to secure funding to match a $200,000 grant from
the Save America's Treasures fund.
Scarlett predicted that Madison would see more tourism and cited recent
studies showing that 85 percent of Americans search out places of historic
significance for their vacations. She said the designation also qualifies
Madison for receiving technical assistance and advice on historic preservation
from National Park Service officials. "Madison has the combination
of two things - middle American values and great historic sites,"
Sodrel called Madison a "living history" because people live
and work in the very areas that are considered historic. "This
landmark designation shows that this is our nation's history
it's not just Madison's history or Indiana's history. It's there for
all of us to enjoy."
Scarlett did her homework prior to arriving in Madison and asked some
detailed questions during the trolley tour, narrated by city councilman
Dave Adams. Asked later what specific Madison sites she would like to
visit, she said the Francis Costigan house, an HMI property on Third
Street designed by the famous Baltimore architect; the Lanier Mansion
State Historic Site; and the Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum,
another HMI property.
"My father was an architect, and I am fascinated at how Costigan
was able to design such a marvelous structure on a lot that is only
22 feet wide," she said. Scarlett left Madison for Bedford, Ind.,
where she was scheduled to speak at a Republican event later that evening.
by Don Ward
a narrated tour of Madison aboard the Madison Trolley.
Other properties also received national designation that
week, including Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., and the
San Miguel Mission in California, to name a few. Scarlett could have
visited any of those other sites that day but chose to make the announcement
She did not actually sign the document designating Madison a National
Historic Landmark District. That was done by Norton prior to her departure.
"She got to sign it, but I get to do the fun stuff by coming here,"
Local officials, meanwhile, reveled in the announcement and what it
could mean for the city.
"This is a great economic development boost to the city, and it
should help attract visitors to the city," said John Galvin, HMI's
president and former executive director. "When people move in and
invest in historic buildings, they want it to be in a place that is
compatible with the surroundings, and they can be sure of that in Madison."
Galvin said the designation is "one of the highest you can receive"
in preservation. And it represents the largest so-recognized district
Staicer, Galvin's successor at HMI, said another ceremony and community
reception would take place at a later date to celebrate the placement
of a National Park Service bronze plaque that will mark the district's
"This has enormous implications for tourism and economic development,"
Staicer said. "And I think it's a matter of city pride. Many residents
knew this was a special place, and this designation validates it nationally."
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