Society plans home tour
during the Madison Chautauqua
home is among those to be featured
(September 2007) Art and history seem to go
well together. Ironically, one of the historic homes that will be featured
on a new historic home and garden tour offered during the 2007 Madison
Chautauqua Festival of Art is owned by a retired professor of art.
by Konnie McCollum
art professor Robert Wolfe
sits in the backyard of his Madison
home, which will be featured on the
Cornerstone Societys September tour.
The 1830s-built home of University of Miami, Ohio, retired
art professor Robert Wolfe Jr. is one of nine homes on the new Twilight
Stroll Historic Home and Garden Tour, sponsored by the Cornerstone Society
of Madison, Ind. The new tour will be held from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 29-30. It was designed to give tourists to the 2007 Madison Chautauqua
Festival of Art a nighttime activity.
Many tourists visiting Madison during our annual art festival
have expressed interest in seeing some of the historic sites in our
town, said Brad Miller, coordinator for Twilight Stroll. We
also know that after visitors leave the Chautauqua, they want something
to do at night. So we thought the historic tour would be a wonderful
compliment to the festival.
Tickets for the stroll are $11 for adults in advance until Sept. 15.
Children under 12 are free. After Sept. 15, the cost will be $15 for
adults. The history of each home has been researched and will be discussed
in a mini-lecture by docents during the tour. A strong focus of the
tour will be the artwork on display in each of the homes.
Miller stressed that 100 percent of the proceeds from the tour will
be put back into the National Historic Landmark District in a variety
of ways, including renovation assistance for homeowners and workshops.
Wolfes Greek Revival home, located at 905 W. First St., was featured
in 99 Historic Homes of Indiana, a book by Marsh Davis,
the president of Historic Landmark Foundation of Indiana. The historic
homes original woodwork, including the floors, door jambs, baseboards
and hardwood floors, was painstakingly hand-scraped and restored. The
original plaster walls were rehabilitated, and Wolfe painted all of
the walls himself.
I wanted the look of the brush strokes, he said. Even the
stone curbs in the front of the home are original. The stone curbs
were one of the things that originally attracted me to this particular
Much of the furnishings in Wolfes home are antiques and artwork
he collected from around the world, including oriental furniture boxes
and a variety of period pieces. A collection of antique prints adorn
the walls throughout the home; Wolfes specialty as an art instructor
was in print making.
Wolfe moved to Madison 15 years ago after paying several visits to friends
in the area. Several of those friends convinced him to buy the historic
home, which he described as being in horrible condition.
Vines were growing through the single-pain windows into the interior
of the house, and there were layers of thick paint on the woodwork.
The mortar was missing from between the bricks, and the overall condition
of the house was in shambles.
I basically saved this house from the wrecking ball, he
said. But Ive put in 10 years of hard work, and I am well-pleased
with how things have turned out.
In addition to the restoration on the original part of the house, Wolfe
hired well-known historic architect, Todd Monzinco, who wrote his dissertation
on Madison architecture, to design an addition that would complement
the original structure. Monzinco, a former student of Wolfes,
also oversaw the historic preservation of the house.
Everything from the 1820s English locks on the doors to the paint
colors are in accordance with historic preservation, said Wolfe.
The architect really worked with the historic district to get
things right, and this home is a wonderful example of combining new
with the old.
The home also boasts a beautiful garden in the back, which can only
be viewed during daylight hours because it is not lit.
Miller said many of the homes on the tour are clustered for easy walking
convenience. We wanted people to leave the festival and be able
to walk straight to the homes, he said.
Another unique aspect of the new tour is two homes that are renovation
works in progress. These two homes will offer prospective historic
property buyers a chance to see what happens during the mid process
in restoration. Other tours dont offer this unique chance
for visitors to see a house being restored, said Miller.
Cornerstone Society plans to hold its tour every other year so it wont
interfered with other established tours in Madison.
Tickets will be on sale at all tour sites the day of the event and are
available at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center or the Madison Main
Street Program office on Main Street. Tickets can also be purchased
by mail. Make checks payable to Cornerstone Society. The address is
P.O. Box 92, Madison, IN 47250.
For more information, call (812) 273-5479.
Back to September 2007