Hurricane Ike hit Galveston, Texas with full force, and even its remnants had an impact on the Midwest. By the time Ike reached Madison, Indiana, it was only a tropical depression, but downed trees smashed many buildings in the city’s vast historic district, which includes 1,600 buildings in 133 blocks. And, like Galveston, this week Madison is still trying to pick up the pieces.
“Things are starting to reopen,” says John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison, Inc., formed in 1960. Seven of the group’s 16 properties were damaged in the September 14 storm, but Historic Madison will reopen two of its house museums this week.
Incorporated in 1809, Madison is known for its intact downtown, which was designated a National Historic Landmark—the country’s highest honor—two years ago.
Named a Dozen Distinctive Destination in 2001, this Indiana town wrote the book on heritage tourism. During Madison’s down-and-out days, residents restored rather than demolished old buildings. “By the early 1900s Madison, because of its beauty and charm, was starting to attract tourists, and people started restoring,” Staicer says.