Days/Historic Trades Fair
to feature new Historic Trades Fair
to give demonstrations
(June 2009) In 1809, Madison, Ind., was a
frontier town on the edges of civilization. By the mid-1800s, the town
had become a bustling metropolis with burgeoning industries and all
of the social niceties of other larger cities. Tradesmen, craftsmen
and even an architectural genius migrated to the growing city to ply
Today, 200 years later, Madisons past has been well-preserved
and protected. The city boasts of one of the largest National Historic
Landmark Districts, and its preservation efforts are highly touted around
Each year at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Home in Madison, the
life and culture of early-Victorian Madison are highlighted. At the
annual Lanier Days, scheduled for June 13-14 this year, visitors can
experience period re-enactments, listen to period stories, participate
in childrens activities, see artisans demonstrating 19th century
trades, hear period music and view a display of Civil War weaponry.
architecutral wood stripper and
refinisher Gregory Doublestein is among
the historic trades people who will give
a presentation at the Historic Trades Fair.
Several Civil War re-enactor groups have agreed to participate
in the event. Besides an encampment, the re-enactors will fire artillery
on the hour, present cooking demonstrations, conduct military boot camps
for children, and hold mock battles on both days of the event. The battle
will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Two family activities, Victorian stories and a childrens craft
project, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to
2 p.m. on Sunday.
Several talks and presentations will be held during the event:
This year a Historic Trades Fair has been added to the events
activities. Artisans and trades people will demonstrate such 19th century
trades as soap-making, masonry, blacksmithing, window construction,
woodworking, weaving, spinning, timber framing, plastering and making
stained glass on the grounds around the Lanier Mansion.
Historic trades craftsmen will also be on hand to talk to offer visitors
advice on repair and restoration of historic buildings, give information
about career opportunities and explain the purpose and growing needs
of their skills.
We are thrilled and excited about the Historic Trades Fair, said
Lanier State Historic Site Manager Gerry Reilly. The trades people
and artisans fit perfectly into the period celebration. This is also
a good way to show people about historic preservation.
The fair is the brainchild of preservation specialist Rhonda Deeg, who
is working with Ivy Tech Community College to establish a historic preservation
curriculum at the Madison campus. We were working on ways to participate
in the Madison Bicentennial Celebration, she said. We decided
to celebrate the trades that built and developed the city.
Gregory Doublesteins The Front Gate, an architectural wood stripping
and refinishing company based in Indianapolis will be one of the preservation
companies at the fair. While the company focuses on wooden doors, its
foundational purpose is coating removal and professional, custom finishing
services for almost any product made of wood that can be transported
to its 6,500 square-foot facility.
Although Doublesteins wife worked for the National Trust for Historic
Preservation in Washington, D.C., during the 1970s, he said he walked
right by old stuff and had the view that new was better,
so progress was getting rid of the old and replacing it. It wasnt
until he started his company and began working on new entry ways for
buildings that he realized the importance of preserving and restoring
About five years ago, I had a shift of focus from replacing to
preserving, he said. The work on older woods is more fulfilling
professionally, and I found that my customers value my work more because
they do not have the disposable mindset.
He plans to bring a few doors to the Historic Trades Fair in various
states of disrepair to show people what is possible. He is also going
to show and describe different staining and finishing options for interested
Timber framing company Trillium Dell Timberworks, of Knoxville, Ill.,
plans to build a timber-frame miniature trebuchet, which is an ancient
medieval weapon that slings stones long distances. We hurl pumpkins
instead of stones, laughed Tim Narkiewicz, a representative of
the company. Our purpose in building the trebuchet during the
fair is to demonstrate how old the trade is, and how durable it is.
He explained that in a typical modern house, the frame is made of thinner
boards nailed together. On the other hand, timber frame structures are
built like furniture, using wood joinery such as mortise and tenon,
held in place with wooden pegs.
With timber framing, you are looking at an indefinite life span,
said Narkiewicz. Its an age old-technique that has been
around since the 10th century.
There are buildings throughout Europe that have been built using timber
framing. In the U.S. during several natural disasters, including hurricanes,
modern timber framed buildings and homes have survived, while the rest
have been devastated, he said.
Thats why you see old barns leaning, but still holding up.
He said the trade is a lost but rekindling art, and in fact,
many of the guides on timber framing are more than 200 years old.
More than 17 skilled historic trades and crafts will be represented,
including masonry restoration, timber framing, window restoration, historic
plaster repair, dry stone and mortar repair, saddletree making, wood
refinishing, chair caning, traditional muzzle-loading, soap making and
fiber and weaving art.
Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana will be on hand for a presentation.
For more information about Lanier Days, call
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