A new weathervane was being placed on top of the recently renovated Lee Academy Saturday morning as one of the final preparations for a celebration and commemoration to be held Sunday, July 8 at 2 p.m. at Lee Academy, 14 Meeting House Lane, just off of the town green behind Memorial Town Hall.
The weathervane was donated by local developer Bill Plunkett, who also donated work on the roof, and served as the general contractor on the project. His work and donation was part of a community-wide effort that has resulted in the restoration of what the Madison Historical Society calls "one of Madison's most iconic and beloved historic buildings."
Through the generous efforts of donors and the support of grants, the building will have ... a new roof, a restored cupola, restored windows with new sashes, restored sills and corner posts, new insulation, new sheathing, new clapboard siding, fresh paint, and much more. We are especially grateful for the guidance, assistance, and donations of funds, time, labor, and materials from the following friends of the Madison Historical Society: Delta Environmental Services; Erwin C. Bauer Charitable Trust; Keith Howard Roofing; Grove Foundation; Joshua Weiss Professional Painting; Liberty Cedar; New Alliance Foundation; Summer Hill Foundation; Think Green Waste Removal; Wm. Plunkett & Associates; Members and Friends of the Madison Historical Society.
When the building was built in 1821 as the town's original high school building, it was named for Captain Frederick Lee, a hero in the War of 1812. The War of 1812 is sometimes referred to as the country's "second war of independence," according to an account on History.com.
In the War of 1812, the United States took on the greatest naval power in the world, Great Britain, in a conflict that would have an immense impact on the young country's future. Causes of the war included British attempts to restrict U.S. trade, the Royal Navy's impressment of American seamen and America's desire to expand its territory. The United States suffered many costly defeats at the hands of British, Canadian and Native American troops over the course of the War of 1812, including the capture and burning of the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., in August 1814. Nonetheless, American troops were able to repulse British invasions in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans, boosting national confidence and fostering a new spirit of patriotism.
Captain Lee, was "one of the most noted revenue cutter captains at the time, [and] commanded [the topsail schooner-rigged] Eagle out of its homeport of New Haven," according to William H. Thiesen, Ph.D. Atlantic Area Historian, United States Coast Guard. With his crew and members of volunteer militias, Lee was charged with protecting American merchantmen against enemy privateers and Royal Navy warships. His mission became particularly important after the British blockade of the United States in 1813. Lee, with his crew and volunteers, waged a series of fierce battles against the British, including some against great odds.
The Eagle’s record in the War of 1812 helped solidify the cutters’ new wartime missions, including port and coastal security, reconnaissance, commerce protection and shallow-water combat operations.
For more detail, see the history lesson entitled Captain Frederick Lee and Cutter Eagle in the War of 1812 written by Thiesen on the PDF posted with this story.
On Sunday at 2 p.m., representatives from the United States Coast Guard, along with volunteers who helped with the Leed Academy Restoration, town officials, the United States Coast Guard Band, the United States Coast Guard Silent Drill Team, and others will gather to celebrate the heroism of Lee and his crew, the renovation of the building that bears his name, and to commemorate the War of 1812.
Here are some additonal details about the ceremony, provided by the Madison Chamber of Commerce:
On Sunday, July 8, representatives from the United States Coast Guard will converge on the Madison Town Green to help commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 in which Madison's own Captain Frederick Lee played a heroic role.
This event, hosted by the Madison Historical Society, will begin at 2pm with the arrival of the US Coast Guard's Period Color Guard. Madison's First Selectman Fillmore McPherson will be the Honorary Master of Ceremonies. He will introduce Captain Eric Jones USCG, who will speak of his experiences as Commanding Officer of the USCGC Eagle, Captain Steve Pope, USCG, who will enlighten us on the life of Captain Frederick Lee and Lyle Cubberly, PhD and MHS member who will relate the story of the "Battle of Toad Island" and the USCG Band.
You won't want to miss the Ceremonial Concert by US Coast Guard Band following the ceremony!
Next on the program is the unveiling of the US Daughters of the War of 1812 bronze plaque to honor Captain Frederick Lee, followed by a performance by the US Coast Guard Silent Drill Team.
The conclusion of the day's events will be the Rededication of Lee's Academy, celebrating the restoration of the c. 1820 building.