The MHS Fund for Historic Preservation
Conceived in 2017, our Centennial year, the MHS Fund for Historic Preservation has a strictly targeted mission: to preserve and protect the historical, architectural, and material culture that makes up Madison's rich and irreplaceable heritage. With this fund, the MHS can help protect Madison's endangered historic buildings and can take a broader preservation and restoration role in the town of Madison.
The MHS Fund for Historic Preservation would allow the MHS to:
- Actively advocate for historic preservation on a local, grass-roots level;
- Assist with the rehabilitation of endangered properties in historic neighborhoods;
- Acquire historically important or threatened buildings and resell them with deed restrictions and easements;
- Educate the public with dynamic tours and educational programming;
- Protect historic buildings by accepting easement donations and managing them in perpetuity;
- Encourage historical, architectural, and archaeological research;
- Document Madison’s architectural heritage.
An MHS Fund for Historic Preservation would be modeled after the groundbreaking initiative of the Historic Charleston Foundation, which was the first organization in the country to develop, in 1958, a revolving fund as a preservation strategy. The MHS’s initiation of a similar fund would enable the MHS to bring to fruition its mission to help preserve the architectural history of the town.
Through this fund, the MHS would seek to purchase, stabilize, and resell historic properties, with protective covenants and easements. In particular, the MHS hopes to identify historic structures that are threatened with "demolition by neglect," having stood vacant or fallen into severe disrepair. The MHS hopes to be instrumental in the effort to save both architectural treasures as well as “ordinary” existing historic residential and commercial buildings that are still useful or can be repurposed. In the decades to come, the MHS hopes to use a revolving fund to ensure that the nature and face of Madison retains echoes of its cultural and architectural past.
A Fund for Historic Preservation would help the MHS protect structures that are nearly lost to time and change, to tell their stories, and to find new owners that will treasure the legacies within their four walls.
It would help the MHS to draw the attention of Madison citizens to a long list of other historic properties that may soon fall. It would ensure a future not just for those threatened structures but also for the preservation of our collective community history.
How Can We Create This Fund?
If your special interest is preservation of the built environment of Madison--specifically its historic structures--you may help the MHS build a fund by contributing to this targeted fund.
What Can We Preserve Next?
With the help of a revolving fund for historic preservation, the MHS may be able to rescue, restore, and return to use iconic Madison properties that seem aimed for demolition or have outlived their original purposes. The goal is that the fund would be wisely invested and managed so as to increase in value and to serve as a valuable tool in perpetuity for the conservation, preservation, and reuse of Madison's most characteristic traditional buildings.
Until 2020, for instance, the house commonly known as “The General’s Residence" was among the most visible endangered structures in Madison. Beautifully sited on the corner of the Boston Post Road and East Wharf Road, this handsome home on an unusually large and bucolic lot had a long and historic story. Clearly threatened due to extensive decay inside and out, the house was abandoned by its owners for several years and eventually was sold to developers. Development plans for a cluster development, approved in 2020, determined its fate.
Demolition followed. Although elements of the home and property were saved, most of the aged and dilapidated structure soon lay in splinters. An architectural study of the home, undertaken before and after its destruction day, thoroughly explored the full story of the property and revealed details of its construction. The developers have promised a full replication of the structure in 2021-2022.
Will the new General's Residence again become a treasured icon of Madison’s past with renewed use for the twenty-first century?