Historic Madison House Wins Top State Restoration Award This Year

March 29, 2019



Historic Madison Inc. has been awarded Indiana Landmarks’ 2019 Cook Cup for Outstanding Restoration for its work on The Shrewsbury-Windle House in Madison.

The home was completed in 1849 as a private residence at 301 W. First Street, now in Madison’s National Historic Landmark District and was transformed into an event venue in 2011.

Indiana Landmarks, a private nonprofit organization that saves historic places, will present the award to the home’s owner, Historic Madison, Inc., at its annual Rescue Party on April 27 in Indianapolis.

Many experts consider the Shrewsbury-Windle House to be the finest example of Greek Revival architecture in the United States, said a news release from Indiana Landmarks.

“What better way to honor the Shrewsburys and Windles than by continuing their tradition of making the home a gathering place and doing as good a restoration as possible?” said John Staicer, Historic Madison president and executive director. “The reaction to the restoration has been overwhelming and quite moving.”

The home features floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Ohio River, and a spiral staircase ascending through the center of the home – an engineering marvel in itself. Charles Shrewsbury, who had the home built, entertained frequently, often hosting celebrities and dignitaries who were visiting Madison.

The Shrewsbury-Windle House’s legacy as a venue for gatherings inspired the preservation organization Historic Madison, Inc., to turn it into an event venue.

John and Ann Windle bought the home in 1948, and were a driving force for historic preservation, founding Historic Madison in their home in 1960 and convincing locals and visitors that the city’s architecture was its key economic asset, said the release. Upon Ann’s death in 2009, Historic Madison inherited the home, bearing a National Historic Landmark designation, the highest historic designation a building can attain in the U.S.

“With this project, Historic Madison demonstrates the highest standards of restoration,” said Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis. “And as a venue for community programs and events, the Shrewsbury-Windle House has taken on a new relevance beyond its iconic status as one of our nation’s most revered Greek Revival buildings.”

The house retained many of its original, character-defining features, including the stunning spiral staircase and original gasoliers — even paint from the 1850s on the drawing room walls. However, a leaky roof and deferred maintenance had taken a toll, said the release. Only a portion of the house was heated, and air conditioning had never been installed, which limited the property’s public use.

Historic Madison raised $2.2 million for the Shrewsbury-Windle House restoration, which included repairing the roof and chimneys, updating the 1920s and 1950s mechanical, electric and plumbing systems, and installing air conditioning, additional restrooms and a sympathetic ramp to make the first floor accessible, according to the release.

Engineers faced a bigger challenge in figuring out how to add modern mechanical and lighting systems without marring the home’s historic appearance. Heating and cooling units went into the basement and attic, with lines running through the back of closets and a non-working chimney. Electricians restored the original gas light fixtures, now fitted with LED lamps and an electronic control system since the home has no light switches.

Below is a video we produced in December of 2018 where the site was used as Historic Madison presented their own award to another historic building.