By Tia Lynn Ivey
After a one-year hiatus, Derby Day–the sole annual fundraiser of the Madison-Morgan Conservancy (MCC)– returned last weekend. Derby Day is a lavish viewing party of the Kentucky Derby in which attendees wear traditional fancy wide-brimmed hats while sipping bourbon and dining on delicious cuisine. This year, Derby Day was supposed to be held at the historic Foster-Thomason-Miller House, but was moved to the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center last minute due to inclement weather. But attendees were still treated to a special evening at the while watching the most popular horse race in the country.
” Thanks to our great friends at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, we were able to move the event inside to their Hall. We are so very grateful to them for helping us out on their busiest weekend of the year -the Spring Tour of Homes,” said Christine McCauley Watts, director of the MCC. “All in all it was a very good weekend for Georgia’s only countywide Conservancy. We raised a significant amount of funding for our programming and we hope we were able to influence the preservation experience of hundreds of people.”
The Conservancy’s Derby Day has been named one of the eight best Derby Parties in the country for three years (2013, 2014, and 2016).
This year’s event was meant to highlight the achievements of the MCC’s newest program. The event included live streaming of the Kentucky Derby, bourbon tastings,a beer garden, delicious Derby Supper by Epting Events, live auction, and best-dressed competitions.
“Affectionately known as Madison’s Masterpiece on Main, the property is the first project of the Endangered Properties Revolving Fund,” explained Theresa Dickinson, with the MCC, about the Foster-Thomason-Miller House.
The original location was meant to showcase the fruits of the MCC’s Endangered Properties Revolving Fund. The Foster-Thomason-Miller House is the first property to benefit from the fund and all proceeds from this year’s Derby Day will go to benefit the fund. According to the Conservancy, due to the Foster-Thomason-Miller house’s unique historic status and front-line visibility in the heart of Madison’s Historic District, the property was the perfect choice to become the first recipient of the Conservancy’s Endangered Properties Revolving Fund.
“The Conservancy’s mission is to protect these types of properties – those that include natural, agricultural, and historic resources – and this is a poster-child project and the first opportunity we’ve had to engage our new Endangered Properties Revolving Fund,” explained Watts.
The MMC purchased the Foster-Thomason-Miller House in 2018 and stabilized the property by replacing the roof and other fundamental renovations. After the conservancy repaired the house, it was put on the market this past July. A couple from Atlanta has since agreed to purchase the house and restore it to its former glory before it was badly damaged by a fire in 2000. The house went under contract last month.
The MCC is a local nonprofit aiming to protect greenspace and historical sites and the Endangered Properties Revolving Fund aims to to secure endangered properties, stabilize them, and then market them to a conservation buyer who will agree to rehab the building to certain standards. According to the MCC, this model is used by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Savannah, Historic Augusta, and other non-profits utilizing revolving funds.