Ornamental ironwork is a defining feature in the fabric of downtown Madison, Indiana. Beautiful gates, fences, and benches fill the historic district – the largest historic district in the state, and a National Historic Landmark District. Cast iron or wrought iron, the sturdy yet delicate black metal ornamentations punctuate the streetscape. Visitors want a photo of it, and residents treasure it.

With permission of Larry Hunt and Virginia O’Neill Hunt

Three of my Poplar Street neighbors to the south are owned by Historic Madison, Inc. (Jeremiah Sullivan House, Talbott-Hyatt House, and Shrewsbury-Windle House National Historic Landmark), and another is a house museum (Schofield House) owned by the Masonic Heritage Foundation, Inc. We are in such good company!

View of the rear of the Sullivan House, and Talbott-Hyatt House and Schofield House
from second floor gallery of our 1876 fixer upper.
tView of Shrewsbury-Windle House (behind Talbott-Hyatt House)
from Poplar & Second Streets.

All of these properties have beautiful ironwork. The entrance of the Sullivan House features one of my favorite railings. The fencing & gate at the Shrewsbury-Windle House are nothing short of spectacular.

When we built our current home just outside of town, we included four elements that we had loved in our previous downtown homes. Columns, hardwood floors, a giant front door, and ironwork.

In the interior, we chose to use a combination of wood railing and iron spindles for an entry staircase accent, and iron stars add interest in the living room bookcases. Outside, we installed new iron planters at the front windows, added a salvaged iron gate in my raised bed herb garden, and set an iron bench in the perennial garden and a decorative iron orb near the front entrance.

So will we feature ironwork in our Madison 1876 fixer upper? Without a doubt. The only question is “where?”

As with many aspects of this renovation, we’re in a research mode. Driving through town noting existing ironwork, visiting local & regional architectural salvage shops, having discussions with iron fabricators – and following many a Pinterest rabbit hole search of ornamental ironwork ideas like the ones picture below.

I’m hoping there will be good spots in the new side garden area for my gate & orb from our current residence. Not sure about the garden bench, so it’s on the “maybe” list.

We would really like to add at least a small section of fence in the yard area. Cast or wrought iron? Both are represented in the downtown. At this point, we have no particular design or pattern preference. We’re looking at salvage pieces, and are fortunate to have Madison Iron Works available locally to restore pieces – or fabricate “whatever you can imagine.” Very nice people, and I look forward to working with them.

We are also thinking of incorporating architectural ironwork in the interior of our home. We’d like to create a headboard for the master bedroom that speaks to the history and setting of the home. Something strong, maybe a bit rough around the edges, and one of a kind. Like the house!

Iron headboard idea from Pinterest

We have plenty of time, but it takes a good amount of time to gather information, develop a design affinity, make decisions, and pull the trigger. Ideas are welcome, so if you have thoughts, please send them our way via sally@sallysview.com.

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One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.