MADISON’S SCHOOL HISTORY ARCHIVE
The society has established a new
archive to record and document the county’s school history. The four current Madison schools
embody and reflect the history of education in the county during the past 50
years. During the prior 240 years, more than 100 schoolhouses may have been
The researchers request that community
members donate copies of pictures and copies of school documents such as: report
cards, promotion certificates, graduation
certificates, printed graduation ceremony programs, or school books. Interviews and oral histories will be
Citizens and society members who
wish to contribute, participate, or be more actively involved should call and leave
a message, including your name and contact information, at the Arcade Museum line
- (540) 948-5488.
CEMETERY DATABASE PROJECT
about 1988 Earl Estes and later Sandy Childress Stowe, Beppy White along with other
members of the Historical Society, have been collecting data on gravesites in Madison County.
With the help of many Madison
County citizens we have
located, visited, photographed and taken GPS locations of many of the small
family graves, which unfortunately are disappearing from the landscape. We have documented some of the church and
community cemeteries but have many more yet to do and many family graves to
locate. We appreciate any help from the
community in locating these graves. Please call the Arcade at 540-948-5488 and
leave a message for Sandy
if you know of an old gravesite. You may
also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are happy
to announce that we now have a CD available for sale listing all the graves (
over 5000) that we have located so
far. Instructions on how to use and
search the database are included in the CD.
Many thanks to Mary Wright for producing this CD for us. She has been our driving force, spending
untold hours, making this possible.
ARCADE MUSEUM PROJECTS
The Society maintains a database of all donations. Some items
not affected by changes in temperature and humidity are kept in a closet off
the Research Room at the Arcade
Museum.. All other items
are either placed on display at the museum and the Kemper Residence or placed
in acid-free containers and stored on shelves in the lower level of the Kemper
Residence. The purchase of special shelving was made possible by a matching
grant from the Virginia Genealogical Society. Jane Volchansky is primarily
responsible for the archives.
The permanent exhibits at the Arcade include the Rapidan
Railroad (which ran from Orange
to Wolftown and Graves Mill area), a Civil War display, Before the Park (pictures
taken by Arthur Rothstein in 1935) and many Indians artifacts. Each winter the
museum closes for two months to put in several new exhibits.
The Slave Quarters Restoration Project
of the Kemper outbuildings began in 1999 with a grant from the National Trust
for Historic Preservation. This grant
allowed us to have architectural evaluation and restoration estimates for the
law office and the slave quarters. At
that time the law office was being used as a county office and was in fairly
good shape, although modified in its interior structure. The slave quarters was used for storage and
was in bad shape, with extensive termite damage to its logs. A fundraising campaign was begun and money
was raised from local contributions and from a grant. The amount was insufficient to handle the
difficult problems of the slave quarters and therefore was used to restore the
law office. That restoration was
completed in 2003, and that small building, office to Governor Kemper and Judge
McMullan, is now part of the tours of the Kemper Residence.
In 2005 interior bracing was placed
in the slave quarters because of its fragile condition. Fund raising for its restoration was
initiated in 2007 with the Kemper Gala, a dinner on the lawn. Following this the Historical Society
appealed to the local, community for support and applied to private foundations
for grants. In late 2008 a grant was
received from the Richard and Caroline Gwathmey Memorial Trust. This, along with the funds raised locally,
was just sufficient to restore the slave quarters, except for its chimney which
had been removed several decades ago.
Joe Wayner, restoration contractor from Orange and the advisor on the law office
restoration, agreed to help us again by overseeing this project. He recommended Craig Jacobs, proprietor of
Salvagewrights Ltd., as the person most knowledgeable about log structures. Mr. Jacobs agreed to undertake the work. Ann Miller, well-known architectural
historian, and again a veteran of the law office restoration, agreed to advise
us on this project as well. Due to the advanced state of damage to the logs,
the restoration would require dismantling and replacement of deteriorated logs
with sound ones, while retaining all usable original parts. Because the Kemper property is under
easement to the Department of Historic Resources application was made to them
for permission to proceed with this restoration. DHR gave its permission and this project has now been completed.
Mr. Jacobs with his team of Stephen Nash and
Paul Crocker systematically began the dismantling. All parts were labeled with metal tags and
photographed in situ. Siding, doors and
windows were removed. The roof, whose
basic structure was sound, was lifted by forklift and placed in the parking lot
of the Health Department. The logs were
then removed along with the intact floor boards, revealing that there had never
been an adequate foundation to the building and that at some point it had been
jacked up and the lower two courses of logs replaced. Next Carole Nash, archaeologist with James Madison
University, came with a
team of archaeological volunteers, and sifted the top layers of soil in the
cabin site. Shards, pieces of metal and
some early buttons were found. Dr.Nash
is evaluating these at JMU and will have them on display eventually in an
exhibit at the slave quarters. When the
archaeologists were finished Brent Ryder and his cousin, Charles Ryder, built a
sound foundation, using period bricks from the property and lime mortar. The soil removed for the foundation was
sifted by another archaeologist, Ray Ezell, who discovered, along with some
shards and metal pieces, an early clay marble.
Logs from a Madison County cabin of
about the same age as the slave quarters and scheduled for demolition were used
by Mr. Jacobs in reconstruction. Once
the logs were assembled and secure on the new foundation the roof was lifted
back into place and the original windows, doors, siding, floor boards and
moldings were replaced, supplemented, where necessary, with period
material. Volunteers from the Historical
Society under the guidance of Craig Jacobs and Stephen Nash did the
caulking. The tin roof, which was in bad
shape, was replaced with a more appropriate roof of cedar shakes. The soil under the cabin and the first two
courses of logs were treated with a termite preventative.
With this phase of the restoration
now complete the building will be included in the tours of the property and
will house exhibits of its method of construction and of the artefacts found in
and under it.
rebuilding of the chimney of the Slave Quarters at the Kemper Residence
is complete. This is the final remaining phase in the structural
restoration of the Quarters. The chimney rebuilding was made possible
with generous financial support from the Madison-Piedmont Chapter of
The chimney work has been undertaken by Brent Ryder and Charles Ryder
of the Madison County firm of Brent Ryder Masonry, Inc. (Ryder Masonry
also undertook the construction of the building foundation and chimney
foundation in 2009, prior to the rebuilding of the log walls of the
Quarters). The handmade brick
for the chimney was “recycled” from the site of an early house in Spotsylvania County.
The earlier chimney on the Quarters was removed in the late 20th
century due to concerns about its condition. However, a photograph of
the building with its chimney in place, from Vee Dove’s book
Madison County Homes, was used as a model for the restored chimney.
Since the top of the chimney had deteriorated, and the interior details
were not visible in the photograph, these missing elements were
researched, and construction details were planned, based on common
building practices used in Central Virginia during the mid and late
19th century. Joe Wayner of Orange and Ann Miller of the Madison County
Historical Society Board consulted with Brent and Charles Ryder.