Future Offices for Historic Madison, Inc.
The Talbott-Hyatt House is a rehabilitation-in-progress. The Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour offers the rare chance to see it before it is complete and ready for occupancy as the new offices for Historic Madison, Inc. one of Indiana’s leading historic preservation non-profits. It is the first time ever this property has been on the holiday tour. Rooms are decorated to reflect a historic period or a theme that relates to the building’s history. Photos and other displays show the history of the building including photos of the current rehabilitation.
Richard C. Talbott built the earliest portion of the house sometime between 1816 and 1819 and may have used part of it as the Jefferson County Clerk’s office. It was a three floor building with one room on each floor. An exterior staircase led to the 2nd floor. Original bark covered log floor joists still support the first floor in the northeast corner of the house. The remnant of one of Madison’s early public wells is in the garden behind the house.
The property changed hands many times after Talbott died in 1835 and has a complicated history. Additions to the original structure more than tripled the length of 2nd Street face of the building by the mid-19th century. Changes, including a partial demolition, later additions, enlarging first floor windows, installing gas lights and then electrical, plumbing and a central radiant heating system followed. The house achieved its current exterior look by the 1930s. Workers from that time period left inscriptions on the plaster walls in some rooms.
In 1962, Mrs. Virginia Hyatt McBride donated her childhood home to Historic Madison, Inc. in memory of her parents Margaret Johnson Hyatt and Benjamin Cox Hyatt, the last owners-in-residence.
Between 1962 and 1965, HMI rehabilitated the house and rented an apartment on the 2nd floor, using the first floor for artifact storage. In 1966, the garden surrounding the house was dedicated as the Talbott-Hyatt Pioneer garden incorporating native & heirloom plant varieties and designed by Carl Berg of Louisville, KY. The Carriage House in the garden is a 1960s interpretation of an early 19th century carriage house designed by noted Indiana preservation architect H. Roll McLaughlin.
Rehabilitation of the Talbott-Hyatt House for use as the new offices for Historic Madison, Inc. began in early 2019, as part of the non-profit preservation organization’s strategic plan. Donations from across the United States are helping to fund the project as part of the Campaign for Historic Madison, which also funded the award-winning restoration of the neighboring Shrewsbury-Windle House. The goal is to create an historic campus for the organization in the heart of America’s largest contiguous National Historic Landmark district.
NOTE OF INTEREST: The corner of 2nd and Poplar Streets is one of the most historic intersections in the state of Indiana, with the Talbott-Hyatt, Jeremiah Sullivan and Schofield Houses all dating to 1820 or earlier. The 4th property at 222 W. 2nd St. is an 1890s modular home – perhaps one of the earliest such homes in the US.