Indiana Landmarks will present the annual Servaas Memorial Awards for achievement in historic preservation and the Williamson Prize for outstanding individual leadership in historic preservation on Sept. 15 at the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis.
The Williamson Prize for outstanding individual leadership in preservation went to Stanley Madison of Princeton. “In the 1990s, Stanley Madison steered the rescue of the Lyles Station School from a collapsing 10 Most Endangered wreck to a museum that has attracted national attention,” says Indiana Landmarks’ President Marsh Davis.
People who visit the restored building learn how free blacks built a thriving farming community beginning in the 1850s in a restricted and segregated era. Madison remains chairman of the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corp, leads tours of the school, manages special events, plants the garden, recruits volunteers—a corps of about 30—and steers the group to achieve an ambitious master plan for the site.
“Indiana is a richer state because the historic Lyles Station School still exists to instruct us about the African American experience, and Stanley Madison is the man responsible,” declares Davis.
When the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture was in development in Washington, D.C., its curators sought out Madison and visited Lyles Station. “Because of Stan’s work, his passion and his eloquence, Lyles Station and Gibson County are represented in the Power of Place exhibit in one of the world’s preeminent museums,” notes Eric Heidenreich, executive director of the Gibson County Visitors & Tourism Bureau.
“The school was collapsing, and lots of people said we’d never be successful when we were washing cars in the parking lot at Wal-Mart to raise money for the project, but Reid Williamson offered encouragement, financial support, and advice, and how could we thank him enough? I’m so honored to receive this award named for him,” Madison said, “and to collect it from Marsh Davis, who worked with us, then and now, to help us realize our vision.”
The Williamson Prize includes a $1,000 cash award and the Williamson Prize sculpture by Evansville artist John McNaughton. The award is named in honor of Reid Williamson, president of Indiana Landmarks from 1973 to 2005. Under his leadership, Indiana Landmarks created regional offices, and grew in membership, staff, and endowment.
Former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard, Indiana Landmarks’ honorary chairman and head of the awards panel, will present the Servaas Memorial Awards at the same event. The awards recognize preservation achievement in non-profit and youth-serving categories. Winners receive cash prizes and a Servaas sculpture, also created by John McNaughton.
Wabash Marketplace will receive the Servaas Memorial Award in the nonprofit category, along with $2,000. The organization, founded in 1981, makes preservation a top priority in its work to revitalize historic downtown Wabash. “The group’s impressive record includes a façade grant program, a revolving loan fund to aid in attracting businesses, events that regularly bring people downtown, and a fearless willingness to buy and turn around dilapidated historic buildings,” notes Shepard.
“We position ourselves to handle inquiries about our community and leap to respond when an opportunity comes along,” says Steve Downs, a local attorney and part-time executive director of Wabash Marketplace.
“Right now, we have four historic buildings undergoing significant renovation and feelers out on a fifth. Wabash Marketplace bought two of them. We found the right developer and sold one and partnered with a developer on the other.”
Downs will accept the $2,000 Servaas Memorial Award and issue an invitation to visit Wabash. “Come on First Friday, spend the night at the Charley Creek Inn, visit Modoc’s for your wake-up coffee and browse the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. Want to open a business in a historic building downtown? We’ll help you with that,” Downs declares.
The Porter County Building Trades Corporation, led by Jon Groth, will receive the Servaas Award in the youth-serving category for saving Valparaiso’s endangered 1912 depot and turning it into a learning lab for students in the county’s vocational program. When Canadian National Railroad applied for a permit to demolish the depot four years ago, Groth raised money to move the building an eighth of mile along the tracks to the school. The students worked for three years to restore it.
The landmark opened this fall as The Hair Depot, the classroom for the educational center’s cosmetology program. Under the direction of building trades teacher Barbara Biernat, and with help from restoration expert and volunteer Joe Baker, students are wrapping up final touches on the building this year.
“Preservationists worry about the increasing scarcity of tradespeople with expertise in repairing and restoring historic buildings. The Porter County Building Trades Corporation addressed the skills gap and saved a landmark in the process,” notes Randall Shepard.
“About 40 building trades students each year worked to restore and adapt the depot. They acquired the skills to work on both old and new buildings,” Groth notes. “Many students were fascinated to learn how the depot was put together, and they derived satisfaction in seeing it transformed.” He will accept the Servaas sculpture and $1,000 prize at Indiana Landmarks’ annual meeting in September from Shepard.
Tina Connor, Executive Vice President, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534,
Stanley Madison, Chairman, Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation, 812-779-7456, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Downs, Executive Director, Wabash Marketplace, Inc., 260-563-7474, email@example.com
Jon Groth, Porter County Building Trades Corp., 219-531-3170, ext.8225, 219-252-8391, firstname.lastname@example.org
Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
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