A Trip to Hoosierland

A Trip to Hoosierland

Only 38 days until the big day.... things are ramping up very quickly here at the museum. The front desk has really picked up this past week with spring breakers stopping in for a visit. The gift shop staff is stocking up with boxes of merchandise being organized. The marketing and sales staff are planning Oaks and Derby parties. And here in education it's prime field trip season. I've got four school groups coming into the museum today while my fellow educator Liz Williams takes over outreach for this week. It's a great time of the year!  

Back to the blog: A couple of weeks ago I took the outreach program to Southern Indiana, to the Ohio River town of Madison. Madison was one of the few towns that got serious about preserving and protecting its architecture and history early on. Today, over 100 blocks of nineteenth century buildings compose the largest contiguous national historic landmark in the country. It's a wonderful place to stroll through historic neighborhoods and shop along Main St.

In the middle of this landmark, sits Lydia Middleton Elementary School, where I visited March 16. Middleton is a wonderful school in so many ways - but one thing that stands out to me is just that it's there. So many communities, when a building gets old, they discard it. And it sits, and sits and sits while falling apart. I go into communities all the time with large, consolidated schools sitting on the outskirts of town. And most of them are great places to learn. But in the meantime, the old school building, formerly a gathering place for the entire community, sits rotting away in town. A school is more to a community than just a place for the kids to learn. It's a central point that usually is a community's cornerstone.   

I wish more communities would do like Madison. Restore and rehab the old building to make it an inviting and cost effective place to learn, but also help keep the community vibrant and relevant.  

This will be my only trip to Southern Indiana for outreach this year. But Middleton is a highlight for all it strives to be - and for what it is to the Madison community. 

Ronnie Dreistadt

Manager of Education Services for the Kentucky Derby Museum.