Lanier Days/Historic Trades Fair

Annual Lanier Days
to feature new Historic Trades Fair

Preservation trades specialists
to give demonstrations

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

Madison Bicentennial Logo

(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 their skills.
Today, 200 years later, Madison’s 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 the country.
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 children’s activities, see artisans demonstrating 19th century trades, hear period music and view a display of Civil War weaponry.

Gregory Doublestein

Photo provided

Expert 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 children’s 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 event’s 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 Doublestein’s 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 Doublestein’s 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 wasn’t until he started his company and began working on new entry ways for buildings that he realized the importance of preserving and restoring older wood.
“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 visitors.
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. “It’s 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.
“That’s 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 (812) 265-3526.

Back to June 2009 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta