The 2017 Historic Preservation Award in the Individual Category was presented to Thomas C. Madden and Franklin M. Madden for their outstanding contributions to the preservation of our community history. Diane Smith presented the Award to Frank Madden, who accepted on behalf of himself and his brother, who was unable to attend.
Tom and Frank Madden were born and raised on the family homestead near Newfoundland, the sons of Albert and Helen Esther Madden, owners of F. A. Madden & Son. The brothers graduated from Greene-Dreher-Sterling High School in 1954 and 1958, respectively. After graduating from Penn State University, they chose careers that took them to faraway places—Vietnam and the military for Frank, and engineering at Bell Labs in Denver for Tom. But wherever they were, they retained a strong sense of family heritage, loyalty to their high school alma mater, and a love of their home place. Even though Frank and Tom live in Wisconsin and Colorado, respectively, they remain dedicated to our mission to preserve local history.
As long-standing Century Club members, Tom and Frank Madden have supported the Historical Society in numerous ways, including writing articles for The Greene Hills of Home, furnishing photographs, documents and family genealogy, participating in the Veterans History Project, and providing monetary support for the Society’s publications.
The 2017 Historic Preservation Award in the Residential Category was presented to John Wesley Akers, Jr. for preserving the architectural integrity of his ancestral home, built by his great-grandparents Charles W. and Sarah (Ansley) Akers, in 1876 in South Sterling. It has been the home of four generations of the Akers family and has had few modifications made to the interior or exterior since it was built. The Akers home is an excellent example of houses built in its time period.
In the mid-1870s Charles and Sarah Akers purchased 30 acres of land in South Sterling where they established a home and thriving business and raised their family. Charles, a blacksmith, had learned the trade from his father, John M. Akers of Angels. He worked in his father’s shop until the age of twenty-three, when he married Sarah J. Ansley, and built his own blacksmith shop adjacent to Haag’s Mill in South Sterling. Charles and Sarah had four sons who worked in the shop with their father. It was Herbert who, with his wife Lily Frey, later lived in the family home, followed by their son John Wesley, Sr., and his wife Ethel Cross.
The original house comprised a kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom on the first floor and three bedrooms on the second floor. A gravity-fed water system supplied water to the barn, house and blacksmith shop. The Akers home was the first to have indoor plumbing in the local area, and for a time their generator supplied power to several families in the area. An addition was later built, converting the house to a two-family dwelling. A porch with carved wooden columns fronts both sections of the house.
Through his preservation efforts, Jack Akers has ensured that the Charles and Sarah Akers Homestead stands as a proud tribute to the generations who have called it home. Susan (Akers) Reichman presented the 2017 Historic Preservation Award to her son, Ross, who accepted it on behalf of Jack, who was unable to attend.