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Indiana Preservation

Historic landmarks to help
Madison preserve district

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(March 2007) – Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana President Marsh Davis said his organization will provide funding for Madison, Ind., to hire a professional to write appropriate design guidelines for Madison’s National Historic Landmark District. His remarks came during a Feb. 17 speech at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library in which he stressed the need for continued preservation efforts so that Madison does not lose its prestigious designation.
The guidelines would help the city’s Historic District Board of Review and homeowners know how to make changes but keep historical accuracy for preservation purposes.
Madison Mayor Al Huntington said he was pleased with the offer. “It’s great, but now we need to all work together and make sure we get the right input from our community.”
Huntington acknowledged that city officials had previously discussed the need for guidelines, but there was simply a lack of money to create them.
Davis said his organization will provide $10,000 to $20,000 for a professional to write a specific set of guidelines that address Madison’s unique needs. Cornerstone Society President Rich Murray, whose organization is a local affiliate of HLFI and the sponsor for Davis’ visit, said the task could be monumental because Madison’s historic district is so large and diverse. He said HLFI could end up providing more money, if necessary.
It was also suggested that Madison hire a part-time professional trained and on-staff with the city to assist homeowners and board members in how to follow the guidelines.
Davis said he was “shocked” to find that Madison had no design guidelines in place considering how well-preserved many of the historic buildings are. Murray said; “We have been fortunate that people care enough to do the right thing up to this point, but the fabric of our district is eroding, and we need to stop this.”
Murray said he thought some of the problems Davis spoke about were simply because some people weren’t aware of how to make the appropriate changes. He said some of the examples included homeowners using plastic windows instead of wooden, or vinyl siding instead of the more historically accurate wooden siding.
“The design guidelines would help the Historic District Board of Review know how to assist property owners on historical accuracy, and they would suggest the proper way to change things and encourage the use of historically accurate materials and colors.”
Huntington said he wanted to make sure the Historic District Board of Review members were given credit for the work they already do. “These are all volunteers who give up their time in an effort to help,” he said.
The Historic Review Board consists of seven members appointed by the mayor.
Murray said enforcement of the guidelines would be up to the board and the city through the Historic District ordinance. He also said any design guidelines would have to be adopted by the Historic Board of Review and City Council.

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