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Treasure Trove

Historic Madison Inc. plans to open
Dr. Hutchings’ annex soon

Intern Cart spent much of summer cataloging heirlooms

(September 2016) – Anyone who has cleaned out a parent or relative’s home knows how hard it is to sort through the boxes, drawers and storage bins of someone’s life. The contents tell the stories of ordinary lives and extraordinary lives of people loved, liked, tolerated and forgotten. The home of a “hoarder” can be a special challenge but also yield a treasure trove for the historian.
Such is the case of the Hutchings Family of Madison, Ind.
The medical story of Dr. David M. Hutchings is well known in Madison. His doctor’s office on Third Street is beautifully preserved and often visited. Dr. Hutchings lived next door in a large federal style home with his wife, Matilda, and their eight surviving children.

Photo by Alice Jane Smith

Summer intern Emily Cart works on cataloging various items of clothing in the large collection from Dr. Hutchings’ family for Historic Madison Inc.

The house, however, is gone, demolished for a parking lot sometime between 1969-1972. Earlier, the contents of the house had been donated to the preservationist organization, Historic Madison Inc., and stored in an unheated warehouse. 
The idea was that “one of these days we will open those boxes,” said David Cart, director of properties for HMI.  
About 15 years ago, Cart said that King’s Daughters’ Hospital gave a shotgun-style house to HMI. It was moved to the location where the Hutchings’ house had been. The property was given back to HMI and named “The Hutchings Annex.” Cart said the plan always was to open the annex as a museum in order to tell the stories of the Hutchings family.
“This has been our rainy day plan all along,” he said.
“They were an interesting family,” said Cart, referring to the Hutchings family. “We have the Medical Office, but we had no place in which to tell the story of the Hutchings family. Everybody in the family was fascinating.”
HMI plans to open access from the Hutchings’ medical office to the annex and add an iron fence.

Photo courtesy of HMI

Clothing and textiles make up a large collection to eventually be exhibited at a new annex museum next to the HMI-owned Dr. Hutchings’ Office in Madison, Ind.

Recently, MainSource Bank donated climate-controlled storage space so the collection of 200 boxes could be moved from the unheated warehouse. HMI staff began to carve out time and resources so they could see just what they had in the Hutchings’ collection. They used summer employees, interns and volunteers to paint, fix up and restore the annex, as well as open all those boxes. The annex looks like a first-rate museum in the making.
Cart’s daughter, Emily, spent much of her summer in the John Windle Auditorium to work on clothing and textiles in the Hutchings Collection. In late August, she returned to Franklin College, where she is a sophomore majoring in secondary education and history.
“Part of my job was to find what we have and get these things into a better environment,” she said. “Some items are in beautiful condition,” such as the silk dresses with bustles that were packed by Lida Hutchings in the 1920s and 1940s. HMI officials say they hope to display many of these dresses. Several dresses had been started and not completed, but HMI has the fabrics and patterns that were used because the Hutchings family kept them.
Cart found lots of quilts, including a baby quilt and the crib that held the infant for which the quilt had been made. They have several christening gowns.
“The Hutchings’ children liked to do plays,” Cart said, “and I found scripts and costumes, a ‘Red Riding Hood,’ and a wolf mask. There are black wings from a production of ‘Faust,’ and a photograph Lida took of the production.”
There are doll clothes, hats, household goods, linens, gloves, undergarments and even Dr. Hutchings’ top hat.

Photo by Alice Jane Smith

Emily Cart displays a red wolf mask found in the collection.

Cart described her work site “a battlefield triage tent.” Items from the Hutchings’ collection were spread in pews throughout the Windle Auditorium. Completed boxes lined one wall of the auditorium. Each pew had different items. When new boxes arrived, she opened them, sorted the contents, described and catalogued them, then put them in good storage boxes. HMI officials then will go through the collection to decide what is worth keeping, what is worth conserving and what to do with the rest. 
“History runs strong in my blood,” she said. Her parents, David and Diedre Cart, met at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site in Madison. Her father had worked for HMI, and her mother at the Culbertson House in New Albany, Ind., and Conner Prairie in Fishers, Ind. She loves history, “all of it,” and especially enjoys American Colonial and Victorian fashion because of the intricacy and detail of fashion. Her family does period costuming at home.
Both Emily and David Cart often referred to Lida Hutchings as they talked. Lida Hutchings was a photographer in the early 1900s. “That was unheard of, circa 1900,” said Cart.
Lida Hutchings took a poignant photograph of her father’s office on the Monday after his death on a weekend in 1903, and she photographed many family occasions. HMI has the photographs, plus Lida’s cameras and darkroom equipment. Lida also wrapped dresses and put notes on them, Emily said.
One of the Hutchings’ sons went to the Yukon to help build a railroad. Another daughter wanted to be a doctor but was unable to get into Medical School. She helped her father. After his death, she continued to see patients, and local pharmacists honored her prescriptions. One daughter went to St. Elizabeth’s Mission to teach on a Lakota reservation. She wrote the family often and sent packages of souvenirs, which are mentioned in the letters. HMI has these letters and souvenirs. The family traveled to the World Fair and other places. They gave theatrical performances, complete with costumes they made themselves. There are flags put in the windows for World War I, victory banners and other World War I memorabilia. 
All the HMI staff members have come up with ideas for exhibits at “The Annex.” There is so much material that “we will not have to repeat exhibits,” Cart said. They have enough material to document the Hutchings’ family Christmas trees every year “and stuff under the tree,” Cart said. “We have fountain pens, walking sticks, fine china and everyday china, a box of clothes’ pins which could demonstrate a whole history of clothes pins, and a polio brace for a small child. We have a huge photo library.”
Joe Carr, a volunteer, also is working with the Hutchings’ Collection. He has catalogued all the Hutchings’ family art and furniture, which is in storage at MainSource Bank.

Later this fall, the public will be in for a treat. “We will highlight the Hutchings Annex for the Nights Before Christmas Tour,” said Rhonda Deeg, HMI’s director of programs. “We will have everything open.”

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