(Courier file photo by Tali Hunt/thunt@madisoncourier.com)
(Courier file photo by Tali Hunt/thunt@madisoncourier.com)
A $2,500 grant is covering the costs of creating a free walking tour app for Historic Madison Inc. and its project partners. Rhonda Deeg, director of programs for Historic Madison, is coordinating the grant project with other local organizations, eighth grade students from Southwestern Junior High School and a design company.

Lanier Mansion received the award from Indiana Humanities after Deeg and Anne Fairchild, former program manager at Lanier Mansion, submitted a joint application with Historic Madison, Inc. Indiana Humanities is a nonprofit that supports public humanities projects.

“The current tour focuses on architecture,” said Deeg. “The new tour, which we’re calling Madison’s Downtown Treasures Walking Tour, will include more about different types of things, and we’re hoping this draws in people who may be interested in other topics, like history or culture.”

Deeg and the Southwestern students are building on an existing walking tour, the Architectural Walking Tour, and the Heritage and Hatcher Hill Trails to create the app. The students explored downtown Madison with Deeg in November to learn more about the sites they may want to include on the tour. Students took photos and learned some basics about different downtown sites and their architecture styles.

“With this new app people will be able to take a self-guided tour or they could continue on their own after taking a guided tour with us,” said Deeg. She said tours will still be guided by Historic Madison on the third Saturday of the month from May to October.

The students will continue researching sites throughout the spring semester. Their research and photos will be turned into a tour guide app using PocketSights, a tour guide design company that specializes in creating tour apps for communities, historic societies and campuses.

Deeg will provide the students with more sources of information, including local leaders in Jefferson County and Madison to answer student questions and provide insight into which sites may stand out to different visitors. Lanier Mansion, the Jefferson County Historical Society, Madison Main Street and other partner organizations also will provide resources for the students.

Deeg plans for the app to to launch in May.