By Sarah Wibell
The Foster-Thomason-Miller house at 498 South Main Street in Madison is currently under contract. The Madison-Morgan Conservancy purchased the historic house – vacant since sustaining fire damage in 2001 – and its 1.024 acres in May of last year with plans to prevent further deterioration while searching for the right buyer to fully restore it. After stabilizing the house by repairing the roof and sealing windows, it was put on the market in July. The Conservancy recently announced that “A couple from Atlanta with roots in Madison and a passion for history are taking on this challenge – to rehabilitate the Foster-Thomason-Miller House and bring it back to life.”
While the sale of the house has not closed to date, the Conservancy’s Executive Director Christine Watts stated, “We are thrilled to have found this potential buyer. Their passion for history and their family connection to the property are the traits we were hoping to find in the buyer of this masterpiece. Though not at the closing table yet, we hope to close in early summer.
“Until then, we will open the house for the Cultural Center’s Spring Tour of Homes on Friday only (May 3) and then have Derby Day there on that Saturday, May 4. So, that will be a big weekend to go there and see the house.”
Watts further noted that the couple is also looking to purchase the adjacent 0.86-acre lot, “That’s good, because we want to keep the greenspace with the house so it will retain the same look from the street.”
The house was built in 1883 by Legare H. Foster, a young man who inherited money and then went bankrupt after the home was finished. The Thomason family owned it for almost 90 years during which time they added electricity and installed the bathrooms in 1916. In 1978, Marci Miller bought the house and entirely restored it, receiving the 1986 Georgia Trust State Preservation Award for her efforts.
“Almost everything in the house is original,” McCauley noted in an interview last year. “Oscar Wilde was in America for the whole year of 1882 and gave lectures all over the place – Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Columbus. So, we think that Foster either saw him speak or read his lectures because there are things in the house directly plucked out of those lectures. It’s all about sunflowers, hand-carving, Minton tiles.”
With many gorgeous, unique details, the house is “an extraordinary example of the American Aesthetic Movement with elements of Queen Anne, Italianate, and Gothic Revival styles” (Lewis & Redwine Real Estate Group informational sheet).
The Conservancy stated, “Though not at the closing table yet, the Conservancy would like to thank all of you who have helped get us this far: Lewis and Redwine Real Estate Group, GA Trust for Historic Preservation, Watson-Brown Foundation, The 1772 Foundation, many individual donors, Erin Tewksbury, the City of Madison, Conservancy Members, and the many, many volunteers. It’s been a beautiful partnership! It is an honor and privilege to be involved in this project. Thank you for entrusting us with this magnificent place.”