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Madison’s Ivy Tech set to offer
historic preservation curriculum

Forum provided officials
public input on validity of program

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(February 2009) – Residents, property owners, contractors and educators who met at a January forum agreed on the need for Madison’s Ivy Tech Community College to develop a program that would tie Madison’s rich historic preservation legacy to a first-rate education program. Nearly 90 people, including Ivy Tech officials and local and state historic preservation experts, met Jan. 22 at the Madison campus to discuss the initiative.
Randy Johann, executive director of workforce and economic development at Ivy Tech, is overseeing the new initiative.

John Staicer

Staicer

“We think the development of such a curriculum is a do-able plan,” he said. “We need the experts in the field to help us decide what to offer. At this point, we are looking for a list of potential instructors and an advisory committee.” Madison Campus Dean Don Heiderman opened the program. He said the idea of developing hands-on curriculum for historic preservation came about during the strategic planning of 2001-2002 when the college decided to expand.
“Madison is known for its commitment to historic preservation,” said Heiderman. “We have a great opportunity to develop a unique program that would be a win-win situation for our community.”
He said Historic Madison Inc., a leading preservation organization in Madison, has been involved from the beginning in the developing such a curriculum.
John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison Inc., said part of his organization’s mission is to provide educational programs in preservation. “Offering more formal education choices or a program has been on our future agenda for years,” he said. “Madison is a learning laboratory for historic architecture. It should also be a learning laboratory for historic restoration for traditional crafts and skills.”
He said his organization’s stock of salvaged preservation products and properties will be available to Ivy Tech for educational purposes.

Paul Hayden

Hayden

Paul Hayden, of the northern regional office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, discussed a cooperative partnership his organization and a local career center had formed. Historic Landmarks Foundation, one of the oldest preservation organizations in the country, teamed with the Century Career Center in Logansport, Ind., to save a historic building in poor condition. While Historic Landmarks Foundation provided the funding for the restoration project on the Schneider House, a historic home built in 1868, Century Career Center provided instructors, students, tools and equipment to do the actual work on the building.
He described how students learned valuable skills in traditional building trades at the same time his organization saved thousands of dollars from using the students. As an example, it cost $1,000 for students to reconstruct the badly damaged roof. It would have cost $25,000 for contractors to do it, he said.
“The project wouldn’t have happened without the Century Career Center,” said Hayden. “When the project is finished, the property will be sold to recover funds, which leaves us with the potential to invest in another property.”
Ivy Tech professor Rhonda Deeg was also part of the discussion. She created a two-year degree program in historic preservation at Harford Community College in Bell Air, Md.. Deeg, who recently moved to Madison, is working with preservation leaders and Ivy Tech officials to develop a similar program for Madison.
“There are only a handful of these programs available throughout the country,” she said. “There is such a need for skilled historic tradesmen and craftsmen that employers were plucking our students right out of the program in Harford before they had a chance to finish.”

Rhonda Deeg

Deeg

Deeg said the Ivy Tech program will be catered to the community but will offer the same theoretical courses, such as historical research, that the other programs have. The hands-on courses will be developed around community interest and need.
“We have to generate interest to make money to pay for the program,” said Johann. “We will grow this down the road.”
He said Ivy Tech officials hope to offer some online or in-classroom courses by March, with field classes beginning this summer. He noted that Ivy Tech students enrolled in the program would be limited to working only on public owned facilities during their training.
Paula Heiderman of Ivy Tech Community College led a public comment session after the presentation program.
“We are sitting on a gold mine training center for people who want to do this kind of traditional work,” said John Miller, who heads the Sustainable Community Task Force in Madison. “This program could have a major impact on our community and the nation.”
The Task Force, which was initially formed under the umbrella of the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, is comprised of numerous community leaders and business people who met on occasion to discuss a wide range of goals and issues.
Madison business developer David Landau said his group’s plans for a retail and hotel complex on the riverfront already has an educational component in them. He and partners Bob and Michael Przewlocki are developing River Mill Resort and are negotiating to buy the Mississippi Queen and dock it permanently in Madison.
“We’ve dedicated space in our hotel and on the Mississippi Queen for people who want to education programs,” Landau told the group. “We are thrilled Ivy Tech in interested in this. This region should be kicking out the top craftsmen in the world.”
Madison homeowner Dottie Massie was among several homeowners who said she wanted to see workshops and seminars on historic preservation that would give homeowners knowledge to do the actual restoration work themselves or teach them how to deal with contractors. “I have restored a couple of homes,” she said. “I did it by instinct, but I would love to take courses to learn more.”
“There is no more relevant course for this community,” said contractor Matt Hicks, who has been involved in many restoration projects.
After the meeting, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana’s Greg Sekula said his organization has thought about a program like this for a long time. He heads the organization’s southern region, headquartered in Jeffersonville.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for this particular Ivy Tech campus,” he said. “Our organization will certainly be ready to play a variety of roles, including offering help with curriculum, and finding speakers and projects.”
Sekula noted that with the economic downtown in the country, many people will be looking at revitalizing older buildings instead of building new ones. “There is a growing need across the country for quality crafts people who understand these old buildings.”
Kent Abraham, also from Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, said this program also helps the “green” or eco-friendly movement in the country. “Using what is already here is certainly the greenest route,” he said. “The greenest building is one already built.”

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