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Parlaying preservation

Meese building developer
explores educational center

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(September 2007) – Madison, Ind.’s prestigious National Historic District Landmark status designation has helped attract a potential historic preservation education center to the Ohio River town. New owners of the 90,000-square-foot historic building formerly known as the Eagle Cotton Mill, or Meese Building, plan to use part of the space for a preservation education center.

Meese Building

Photo by Don Ward

The former Meese building is being
cleaned up by the new owners to make
way for a mixed-use residential
and commercial development.

“It was the tremendous efforts, both administrative and physical, that helped Madison get the designation,” said preservationist Bob Przewlocki. He, along with partner David Landau of Michigan City, Ind., bought the building in late June.
“We feel Madison has a progressive community for Historic preservation and is a good spot for incubating talent.”
Przewlocki and Landau have planned an extensive, mixed-used development. Their plan, to be conducted in two phases, will feature retail and restaurant space on the first floor and condominiums upstairs.
Plans also include green space, educational classrooms for promoting historic preservation and a mini-conference center for hosting groups and events.
Although the partners have owned the building for just a few weeks, they have already begun some necessary cleanup work. They plan to offer some arts-related events and abbreviated tours of the historic building during the Sept. 29-30 Madison Chautauqua Festival of Arts. Some of those events could include preservation or craft related demonstrations including timber framing. Details have not been finalized.
Przewlocki said it is too premature to discuss anything right now, but he has been in discussions with various people in Madison about a preservation education center. “At this point, everyone we’ve talked to are all for it, but the project is in its infancy.”
Currently, he is exploring issues involved in setting up the center, whether to make it a profit or nonprofit operation, what kind of space should be set aside for it, and other organizational issues. The actual classrooms will be centered on a workshop atmosphere.
Przewlocki, 56, has more than 35 years of experience in historic preservation projects. His background includes studies in drafting and engineering when he was a student at Boston College. “I love architecture and history,” he said.
While in Vermont years ago, he happened upon workers timber framing historic structures.
“I was hooked,” he said. He learned the process, and began his career in historic preservation.
He spent 10 years in Bowling Green, Ky., working on historic buildings in the area, including a restoration project in a South Union, Ky., historic Shaker community.
His company Preservation Trades Inc. of Wayne, Ill., is a full-service, design and build company specializing in traditional craftsmanship with sensitivity for the natural and built environments. It employs the latest methodologies in evaluating, planning, improving and rebuilding historic structures as established by official guidelines by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Preservation Trades trains traditional tradesmen, such as carpenters, painters, framers and masons to do historic work, including restoration, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Przewlocki said he is looking forward to working with Madison to establish a preservation education center. “The support everyone has shown us, including the Mayor’s office, has been great,” he said. “There are lots of buildings in the city that we will be able to work with.”

• For more information about Preservation Trades Inc., visit: www.preservationtradesinc.com.

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