We Heart HISTORY!
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Remember 4th grade History class? No matter what state you lived in back then, you learned all about your state history. You may have taken a field trip here or there to see buildings or documents from that time when your territory became your state, and part of the U.S. Importantly, you got out of the daily grind of elementary school for a day. Lunch was out of a bag, out in the fresh air of a park, perhaps.
For many of us, that’s the last time we thought history was awesome. I’ll confess, I did not love the history classes of junior high or high school. My comprehensive art history course at Ball State was a nightmare, thanks to one smarty-pants in the class who achieved an A, wrecking the curve for the rest of us in that large, humorless lecture hall.
Now, though, history seems so much more fascinating. Everywhere I’ve lived as an adult, I’ve been aware of significant — or merely interesting — history. I grew up in Corydon, our first state capitol, on the corner where the Constitution Elm actually grew and provided the shade for the state constitution signers (after it died, they moved it down the street next to the car wash – you may remember that from your 4th grade field trip). In Providence, RI, I strolled casually by Edgar Allen Poe’s house every day. In Salinas, CA, John Steinbeck’s boyhood home was one block away from my little Victorian cottage, and I thought about the less-than-angelic characters in “East of Eden” as I walked the same streets they had. Now, in Madison, the past and present stand and work together every day. Visitors are curious about all sorts of things, and I love telling them what I know. Telling about people’s lives makes history more real for them, and their faces light up as they as they hear about hogs running loose in the streets, important stops on the Underground Railroad that are still standing as homes, the mayoral portrait of Charles Shrewsbury that was painted by celebrated Hoosier artist William M. Snyder when he was very young.
And now that I work to promote and share the lovely Shrewsbury-Windle House for HMI, every little historic detail I run across connects to 1849, when the house was finished enough to host a three-day housewarming party. 1849, when the Shrewsbury boys were roughly 9, 7, 5, 3, and 1 years old, with baby Mary finally making an appearance about nine months later.
Are you still recovering from Madison Chautauqua? The arts festival made its first appearance here in 1901, when the Shrewsbury House was 52 years old. By this time, the original family had seen some hard times – brothers torn apart by the Civil War, the deaths of all five of the brothers, the marriage of Mary when she was 38, and the birth of her daughter, Eleanor, seven years later.
Will you be joining us for tea — the Gatsby Glamour Tea — October 13? 1920 began the “roaring twenties” era after the ratification of the Prohibition Amendment, the growing independence of women during the war, the appearance of flapper dresses on these independent women, and much more. It’s the year a 50’ strip of land to the south of the property was acquired by Lucy Rogers Walker. Lucy and her husband, Harry, had acquired the “old” Shrewsbury Place for $1 through a sheriff’s foreclosure sale.
1872 was the year that the Hon. Charles L. Shrewsbury, 7th mayor of Madison, died during his second year in office. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported at the time that “the city wore an aspect of mourning as though it had lost its best friend.” 147 years later, we would lose another fine mayor still in office, Damon Welch. And, yes, the city feels as though it has lost a friend. We offer our sincere condolences to his family.
1849 – that makes this the 170th anniversary year for this wonderful old house that has borne witness to so much excitement, joy and sadness over the years. It’s our hope that you will come and enjoy it in some way during this 170th year…
…and next year, too, the 60th anniversary of Historic Madison, Inc., founded in 1960 by just the third couple to own the home, John and Ann Windle. They could feel the importance of the history all around them in Madison, and wanted all of us to share it, in their home, the Shrewsbury-Windle House. Come get to know and love a little history and its characters in one of our favorite places.
No apologies; we heart history!
Ann Lostutter, Shrewsbury-Windle House Events Coordinator