Lofty Goals

Madison Main Street Program to offer one-day loft tour of 6 buildings

They hope to attract potential residents,
business owners


(September 2015)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

Downtown Madison, Ind., has many unique shops and businesses housed in even more unique two- and three-story buildings. The architecture and character of these structures are diverse and are an attraction in and of themselves. But what visitors don’t get to see is what the spaces look like on the upper floors of these historic structures.
That is about to change.

Photo courtesy of Amy Smith

The third floor of Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar is unfinished but offers great potential for development.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Madison Main Street Program is planning a “Main Street Loft Tour” of six buildings along Madison’s Main Street. Some are fully furnished homes, while others are unfinished or completely raw and empty, offering unlimited potential. The idea is to get people to consider the possibility of moving their business or residence downtown, say Madison Main Street Director Whitney Wyatt and Amy Smith, a volunteer Main Street member who is helping to promote the event.
“We want to attract people who are curious about office space and who don’t need to be on the first floor of a building, or people who might like to live downtown in one of these upper floor buildings,” said Wyatt.
For $10, guests will be able to take a self-guided tour of six sites. The tour starts at the Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St., which also is one of the tour sites.

Photo courtesy of Amy Smith

The upper floor of the Masonic Lodge Building has a spacious living area.

“There will be hosts and hostesses and the business owners at each site to answer questions and tell about their buildings, but for the most part, these are self-guided tours,’ Smith said.
“People can visit the sites in any order they want or take as much time as they want,” Wyatt said.
The tour sites include:
• Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St. and featuring the second floor of commercial space and a loft apartment. Over the years, the building has been home to a photo studio, clothing store, studio of notable 19th century tinsmith John Eckert, an appliance store and an antique shop. The building now has six owners who for the past year have been holding various public events, such as concerts and plays, in the main hall on the first floor. They also have held wedding parties on the second floor.
• 108 W. Main St. This building was purchased in the fall of 2014 by Larry and Valecia Crisafulli, who are renovating it to house a commercial business on the first floor and residential spaces on the second and third floors. The three-story Italianate commercial building is representative of the many iron storefronts in Madison during the second half of the 19th century.
The two residential loft units featured on the tour include the second-story unit in the main building that is characterized by large, restored windows that overlook Main Street, a restored iron balcony (one of the few surviving in Madison), unique intact arched woodwork in the main living area and three original fireplaces.
The Crisafullis’ second loft residential unit is located on the upper story of the rear addition – a bright, open concept studio apartment. The apartment has large windows overlooking Lytle Park on West Street. The rear of the building features desirable outdoor space and an open deck.
• The Masonic Lodge Building, 217-219 E. Main St. Owner Donn Vecchie-Campbell will welcome tour guests to the upper floors of this massive structure, the largest on Main Street. The building was erected in 1871 as The Masonic Lodge Hall and has served Madison by housing many different businesses over the years. These include a grain store, grocery, Justice of the Peace, and even as the site of the original Jefferson County Public Library.
Vecchie-Campbell has restored the woodwork throughout the second and third floors, and her decorative touches are evident throughout the grand space, which she spent six years renovating.
• The Lofty View, 228 E. Main St. New Madison residents, the Richey family, recently bought and renovated what was formerly the Knoebel & Sons Men’s and Boys’ Furnishings for nearly a decade. Originally built in the 1850s, the current structure was likely constructed in the 1870s. It has housed a dry goods store, drug store and a boot store.
The third floor was added sometime between 1897-1904. The Richey family has transformed the third floor into a residence that features many surprises for tour guests.
• The Ivy Vine Florist building, 182 E. Main St. Current residents Barry Hebner and Allen Ginkins will welcome tour guests into their home on the second and third floors. The building is owned by George and Janet Freeman. It features a large solarium in the middle of the structure that was formerly a grain silo. The home also features a piece of history from another Madison home – the staircase in the building once served as a staircase in the former Steinhardt mansion, according to Hebner.
• Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar, 325 E. Main St. Owners Bob and Gail Maile will welcome tour guests into their massive building that houses Maile’s Madison Table and Light furniture business as well as his recently opened Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar. But it is the second and third unfinished stories that are sure to impress guests. The enormous space will present an example of the potential of this and many other downtown buildings, according to Wyatt and Smith.
The main floor has been beautifully restored and houses the Mailes’ artisan handcrafted tables, fine art and the wine bar. The third floor is large and it is believed once served as a roller skating rink.
Kathy Rohlfing is chair of the Main Street Program’s planning committee for the Loft Tour. Smith was recruited to help in promotions, since she recently retired from a career in TV and radio in Indianapolis. She and her husband, Dave, had spent the past decade living part-time in Madison but finally moved there permanently in July 2014. In addition to volunteering with Main Street, she sits on the city’s Historic District Board of Review with Crisafulli, also a relative newcomer to Madison.
The Crisafullis, who are Illinois natives, discovered Madison while visiting their son during the years when he attended nearby Hanover College. They have recently retired there permanently. Valecia Crisafulli previously worked as a Small Business Specialist with the National Main Street Center for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. Her 25-plus years of working with the Main Street Program and her expertise has been a great addition to Madison, according to Wyatt.
“We intentionally scheduled the Loft Tour during the same weekend as Hanover College’s Alumni Weekend in hopes that we could get some of those people to take the tour and discover the potential these buildings have for commercial or residential use,” Wyatt said.
Smith added, “The idea is to showcase a wide range of spaces, from completely raw spaces like the Mailes’ to the furnished ones and the mid-range ones. This is not a real estate tour; it’s a way to let people know what potential we have here in Madison for developing unused spaces in downtown.”
Wyatt suggested that guests wear comfortable shoes for the tour and noted that the sites are not handicap accessible.
Tickets for the Madison Main Street Loft Tour are $10 and available now at Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main St. and after 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 3 at the Red Bicycle Hall hospitality site the day of the tour. For more information, call (812) 493-4984. The Loft Tour also has a Facebook page.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.


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