invest in saving
some of Madisons historic properties
Editor & Publisher
(October 2006) John and Donn Campbell would
be the first to to tell you that they are not ones to seize the limelight.
They like to keep a low profile.
by Don Ward
and Donn Campbell are presented
the Dorothy Inglis Reindollar Preservation
Award on Sept. 15 by Historic Madison Inc.
But when you move into a small town the size of Madison,
Ind., and within one year buy one of the largest buildings on Main Street,
you tend to stand out. And theres no place to hide in a town of
only 13,000 residents.
Since moving into Madison six years ago from Key West, Fla., the Campbells
have bought three houses and two historic properties the largest
of them being the former Masonic Lodge building that towers above East
Main Street. Soon after buying the Masonic Lodge building from Robert
Maile in 2001, the Campbells immediately began restoring the 10,000-square-foot
structure and eventually leased the main floor to two retail businesses.
They are still in the process of renovating the second and third floors,
and by next year plan to lease the space to Woodburn & Kyle &
Co. Inc. consulting firm.
They recently finished renovating a historic home at 714 W. Second St.,
and they have now turned their attention to a dilapidated house at Broadway
and Third Street that once housed St. Annes Academy. The building,
located at 420 Broadway, was a finishing school for girls where Catholic
nuns from Sisters of Providence, based in Terre Haute, Ind., taught
French and piano from 1814-1817. The home sat vacant for a decade, and
the Campbells bought it at an August 2004 auction of the Cochran estate.
When they finish restoring that house, they plan to turn it into a bed
Then theres the federal style farmhouse they recently purchased
out in the country near Kent that they plan to renovate sometime next
year. Meanwhile, they live in a modern Madison hilltop home on the 36-acre
Geyman farm just off Michigan Road. Since moving in with their four
children in spring 2000, they have added a master bedroom, master bathroom
and garage, and enclosed the game room and installed a swimming pool.
But it is their work on the monstrous former Masonic Lodge building
that has drawn the most attention to this otherwise low key couple,
who moved to Madison simply to raise their children in a safe environment.
And it is for their preservation efforts that the Campbells were honored
as this years recipients of the Dorothy Inglis Reindollar Preservation
Award, given by the citys nonprofit preservation organization,
Historic Madison Inc. HMI Executive Director John Staicer presented
the award at a Sept. 15 reception, held at The Livery Stable in downtown
by Don Ward
and Donn Campbell renovated this house on West Second Street.
It was featured on the Tri-Kappa Tour of Homes in October.
Established in 2000, the award recognizes individuals,
residential owners or business owners for outstanding achievements in
preservation and restoration efforts in Madison and Jefferson County.
Previous recipients include Jae Breitweiser of Eleutherian College (2005);
Robert Maile (2004); former HMI Executive Director John E. Galvin (2003);
Staicer for his work in restoring the Schroeder Saddletree Factory (2002);
and Christ Episcopal Church for restoring its stained glass windows
It is a great honor, and we are very excited about it, said
Donn Campbell, 45, a native of Fort Myers, Fla., where her family operates
Pepsi-Cola distributorship franchises in Key West, Tallahassee, Fla.,
and central Illinois. Donn Campbell and her two brothers manage the
third-generation family business today. John Campbell, 46, spent 20
years working for Pepsi-Cola.
The significance of this couples preservation work in Madison
was somewhat upstaged that night by the celebration of the citys
designation by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark
District. The event included a series of short speeches by local, state
and national dignitaries. But the Campbells accomplishments still
deserve merit, considering the amount of money they have invested in
the town and its inherent impact in just six years of living here.
During a late September interview with the couple at their newly renovated
West Second Street home, the Campbells discussed the love they share
for preservation, although it is apparent that they frequently disagree
on their approach. Our motto is, if it shows, its my call;
otherwise, he can make all the decisions, Donn said, laughing.
John handles such areas as plumbing, heating and air, and electrical
work, while Donn picks the color of paint for the walls, decorations
and furnishings. Everything you see in this house I bought on
sale, she boasts.
They follow no particular philosophy or adhere to any national celebrity
interior designer or HDTV personality. No, you wont find Martha
Stewarts touch in a Campbell home. What you WILL find is authenticity
and a genuine effort to bring back the original floors, woodworking
Im a big fan of dry wall, John says. And I love
aluminum siding and vinyl, but Donn insists that we do it right, so
that means a long, painstaking process of rehabing old doors and windows
and floors and we all work for Donn, John jokes.
He then added seriously: Donn has the vision and the passion;
shes the driving force. My job is to find out how to get it done.
The Campbells have used several subcontractors for the Masonic Lodge
building but now work almost exclusively with Hills Historic Restoration,
owned by David Hill. It took a while for us to find the right
people to work with; no one wants to do historic properties, John
When the Campbells arrived in Madison, they werent new to historic
preservation or rehabing old buildings. While living in a modern home
in on the northernmost end of the six-mile-long Key West island, they
bought a historic home dating to 1865 in the downtown district and restored
it. They lived there, near the famed Key West cemetery and only two
blocks from Duval Street.
by Don Ward
and Donn Campbell are renovating this former girls finishing school
that was once operated by nuns from Terre Haute, Ind.
Donn served on the towns preservation board, and
the couple won local and state preservation awards for their restoration
It was only a year after moving to Madison that they caught the bug
again, buying the Masonic Lodge building from Bob Maile. The ongoing
project has turned out to be a real challenge, they admit.
In addition to school, the Campbells are active in various local organizations:
Cornerstone Society, Historic Madison Inc., Jefferson County Historical
Society and Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. Donn sits on the
board of the Lanier Mansion Foundation.
Donn is also a member of Tri-Kappa Sorority and will show her newly
renovated home on West Second Street on this months Tour of Homes.
She renovated the home for her father, Don Vecchie, and stepmother,
Pat Coleman, to stay when visiting from Florida, she said.
It was just an excuse to buy it, she admits. I drove
past this house all the time and never even noticed it. Then one day,
I saw a For Sale sign in the yard, so I decided to look
The owner of the home also owned and sometimes stayed next door. She
used this home to store her vast collection of antiques, Donn Campbell
said. When the house was sold, the antiques were hauled away, but the
former owner left the Campbells one parting gift: a pane of glass from
the former Inglis Drug Store. Donn proudly displays the glass in the
We call it the Aunt House because I think everyones
aunt lived here at one time or another, Donn Campbell said.
The Campbells spend much of their time raising their children Ben,
17, Sam, 14, Emma, 13, and Maggie, 11 and volunteering at
Pope John and Shawe Memorial Schools. In fact, the schools development
director, Marta Belt, nominated the Campbells for the HMI award.
Theyre such good people and great volunteers, and theyre
very difficult to thank because they dont want the recognition,
said Belt. Theyre not natives of the area, but they have
embraced Madison and put so much into making it a better community.
The Campbells may agree with that assessment, but you would have a hard
time getting them to admit it. We normally dont like to
talk about ourselves, John says. You must have caught her
on a good day.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner
of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259.
Historic Madison Inc. holds reception to celebrate
Madison's National Historic Landmark District award
Historic Madison Inc. held a Sept. 15 reception at The
Livery Stable in downtown Madison, Ind., to celebrate the city's recent
National Historic Landmark District award. The event, which attracted
more than 200 people, included a series a short speeches from various
local, state and national dignitaries. A future date will be set to
install the marker, which was on display that night.
by Don Ward
Ahlgren of the National Park Service compliments the city's work
in earning the NHLD status.
left, HMI's John Staicer, Madison Mayor Al Huntington, county
commissioner Mike Frazier and retired HMI director John Galvin
hold the plaque that will soon be erected in Madison.
Smith of the National Park Service played a key role in the application
process. He was formerly with the Indiana DNR
Davis, the new director of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana,
also spoke at the reception.
and John Nyberg were honored for their preservation work in Madison.
They have since moved to Nashville, Tenn., where Kim has accepted
a state post with the Main Street Program.
National Historic Landmark District plaque was on display at the
Back to October 2006