Preservation Plans

Historic Madison Inc. gets grant
for Shrewsbury-Windle Home

Money to preserve,
rehabilitate future touring museum

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(August 2011) – While John and Ann Windle were still alive, they took extremely good care of their home. The couple’s will deeded their home to Historic Madison Inc., which has in turn has received grant money to implement a preservation plan for maintaining the circa 1840s Greek Revival style home.

Shrewsbury-Windle Home

File photo by Don Ward

Historic Madison Inc. plans to turn
the Shrewsbury-Windle Home in Madison
into a touring museum home.

Upkeep of this property is important to some individuals in Madison. A $5,000 grant recently was awarded to HMI from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Long term goals include preservation and rehabilitation of the home and opening it up to the public,” said HMI President John Staicer. “We need to put together a preservation plan first.”
Such a plan would provide short and long-term preservation goals and maintenance costs. This plan is the first step towards assessing the home, its mechanical systems and grounds, in order to calculate needed repair costs and maintenance priorities.
The home, located at 301 W. Second St., “represents Madison at the height of its wealth and industrial prominence in the 1840s and 1850s,” said Staicer. It was designed by one of the state’s best architect, Francis Costigan, and named in part for its first owner, riverboat Capt. Charles Lewis Shrewsbury, and the Windles.
In 1994, the property was listed as a National Historic Landmark, a designation awarded by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. There are fewer than 2,500 such landmarks in the country.
HMI will apply for more funding at some point in the future, Staicer said. The grant that was awarded is a matching grant, meaning that HMI has to come up with $5,000 for a total of $10,000 to construct a preservation plan.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the grant from its Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation. This fund fosters appreciation of America’s diverse cultural heritage while preserving and revitalizing the nation’s communities. These grants range from $2,500 to $10,000 and are awarded annually to non-profit groups and public agencies.
Genell Scheurell, Senior Program Officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the Midwest Offices, said, “These grants are intensely competitive. This was the only project awarded a grant in our eight state region.” The Midwest Region covers Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“Basically, the grant is designed for planning grants,” she said. “It is intended to be seed grant money to get a project going. Our intent is to get a project launched.” The Shrewsbury-Windle House “is a very special project. We’re please to be able to be a part of it.”
The grant money will pay for architectural services and engineers, and a landscape professional to look at the property and devise a plan for its future. All of these findings will go into the preservation plan. Ratio Architects, based in Indianapolis, was chosen to construct the plan. The firm offers services in architecture, preservation, landscape architecture and interior design.
“Historic Madison Inc. is known as an exceptional organization,” said Scheurell. “They do this type of work very well.”
John Galvin was president of HMI for 28 years. During his tenure, HMI completed such projects as St. Michael the Archangel Church and the Schroeder Saddletree Factory. He said the Shrewsbury-Windle House is “important to the community” and it will be a great challenge to preserve it as a house and museum.
Galvin is also executor of the Windle’s will, which is still in estate. But once it has been settled, the property will be transferred to HMI and the grant money implemented. HMI will then be able to “make improvements as suggested, which will open the door to getting grants for major rehabilitation projects,” Galvin said.
Although there is no definite timeline for this project, Staicer estimated the preservation plan “will probably be completed by this fall.”
Because of the unique, specialized architectural style of the home, the materials needed to make repairs are “no longer available or hard to come by,” Staicer said. It contains a free-standing spiral staircase, black Egyptian marble trimmed fireplaces, Corinthian columns, gas light fixtures that were electrified in the early 20th century and original Shrewsbury family portraits painted before the Civil War. The exterior of the home contains ornate iron fencing and balconies and herringbone-pattern brick sidewalks and garden paths.
When the Windles lived there it was used as their home, an antique store and a museum, said Staicer. It was open to the public from 1948 when the couple moved to Madison from Chicago, until 2006 when Mrs. Windle became too ill to run a business or receive guests. Her husband died in 1987 and she passed away on July 30, 2009.
The Windles were antique collectors and the home contains some pieces original to the time period when it was constructed. We’re going to try to get it back into shape for continued use as a museum property, Staicer said. The couple also founded the non-profit HMI in 1960.

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