Tour Stops

Historic Madison Inc. readies
its tour sites for a new season

New information discovered
on Judge Sullivan, family

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(April 2011) – Some surprises await heritage tourists when they return this spring to visit Historic Madison Inc.’s historic properties. The biggest changes will be to the Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House at 304 W. Second St., said Heidi Valco Kruggel, HMI’s Director of Programs.
The preservation organization on April 16 will re-open five of its historic properties to the public for the 2011 season.
The Sullivan House has been the object of HMI’s attention in recent years because of the extensive damage it sustained when the remnants of Hurricane Ike swept through the city on Sept. 14, 2008. A tree fell on the roof in that wind storm. Much of the third floor had to be rebuilt.

Sullivan House

File photo

The Jeremiah Sullivan House at 304 W.
Second St. has a new look after
cleanup and repairs were done in
the aftermath of Hurricane Ike
in September 2008.

Newly exposed wood members presented the opportunity to investigate the real age of the 19th Century Federal style home. The staff called in Dr. Darrin Rubino, a biology professor at Hanover College who specializes in dendroarcheology, or the science of using tree rings to date wood specimens.
“We say that the house was built in 1818,” said Kruggel. “We found out that some of the members used in the roof date to 1822, so maybe the house was built later than we think or it was built in stages.”
An exhibit explaining the dendroarcheology project is now on display on the third floor of the Sullivan House.
Whether built in 1818 or 1822, the home is known as Madison’s first mansion. Sullivan was an early member of the Indiana state Legislature, a judge of the Indiana Supreme Court and a judge of the Jefferson County criminal court.
The third floor now displays additional information on the Sullivan family – the Judge, his wife, Charlotte, and their two famous sons, Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Jeremiah Cutler Sullivan.
Visitors can now learn about the divergent paths taken by the two Sullivan sons during the difficult Civil War period. Algernon married a Southern woman, became a lawyer and was known as a Southern sympathizer, while Jeremiah Cutler Sullivan became a brigadier general in the Union Army. “We interpret the house during the Federal era, but this gives us an opportunity to share a different side of the family,” said Kruggel.
In addition, HMI recently discovered that Jeremiah and Charlotte Sullivan had indentured servants who were children. At least one of them was African-American. This information gives another dimension to the interpretation of the Sullivan House. Kruggel said she has written a grant application for funds to explore that aspect of Sullivan history more deeply.

Other properties that will open for the season on April 16 include:
• Dr. William D. Hutchings Hospital and Office, 120 W. Third St. This small brick Greek-revival building is the late 19th Century office and hospital of a “horse-and-buggy doctor.” It contains most of the original equipment from Dr. Hutchings’ practice as well as Hutchings’ family furnishings.
• Francis Costigan House, 408 W. Third St., was the home of the master architect who designed it along with the Lanier Mansion, St. Michael the Archangel Church and other Madison buildings. It is considered a masterpiece of 19th Century design. Only 22 feet wide, the two-story house is Greek Revival in style. This year visitors will see additional artwork on the walls, from the HMI collection of fine arts.
• Ben Schroeder Saddle-tree Factory Museum, 106 Milton St., is America’s last 19th Century saddletree factory. From 1878 to 1972 it produced tens of thousands of wood frames for saddle makers as well as wooden clothespins and other products. Tours and demonstrations are available.
• African Methodist Episcopal Church Building, 309 E. Fifth St. This is one of two churches established in an African-American settlement known as “Georgetown.” The area served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Several of the AME Church members were active in Underground Railroad operation.
Admission to any of the Historic Madison Inc. properties is $3 for adults; students and HMI members are free. The season extends from April 16 to Oct. 31.
As always, volunteer docents, or guides, will keep the properties open to the public.
“We are always looking for more docents,” said Kruggel. “A lot of our docents have been with us for 20, 30, even 40 years.” She said the docent organization has formed a recruitment committee to search for additional volunteers.

• Anyone interested in volunteering time at the historic properties may call (812) 265-2967.

Back to April 2011 Articles.



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