Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building; Broadway Fountain; Jefferson County Courthouse.
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Madison, Indiana

Georgetown Neighborhood

Jefferson Street, Georgetown District.

Jefferson Street, Georgetown Neighborhood
National Park Service

Madison, Indiana, was home to a thriving community of African Americans who lived in the Georgetown Neighborhood during the tumultuous decades (1830-1860) leading up to the Civil War. The neighborhood runs along North Walnut Street, extending from Main Street to where Jefferson Street (US 421) now intersects Walnut and East Fifth Streets. The origin of the community’s name is lost to history. One story identifies George Hopkins, who resided at 625 Walnut Street during the neighborhood’s peak, as the area’s namesake, while another account points toward George Short, a wheelwright who lived at the north end of Walnut Street during the 1820s. Around 65 percent of the neighborhood’s pre-Civil War buildings still exist, giving Georgetown a remarkable level of historic integrity.

One of the first African Americans in Georgetown was whitewasher Stepney Stafford. Stafford and his wife Polly appear in Madison records as early as 1823 and lived at 619 Walnut, a c.1825 Federal style home. Later Underground Railroad participants including William Douglas (307 E. Fifth Street), minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Elijah Anderson (624 Walnut Street); David Lott (626 Walnut Street); and Archibald Taylor (627 Walnut Street) lived in Georgetown and helped scores of freedom-seeking African Americans cross into Indiana and continue their journey north. George DeBaptiste and William J. Anderson are two of the well-documented and more famous Underground Railroad conductors who once called Madison home.

Two churches closely tied with Georgetown’s history still stand today. When African American members of the Wesley Methodist Chapel were asked to sit in the gallery while white congregation members sat on the main sanctuary floor, they decided it was time to have their own house of worship within the Georgetown neighborhood. The shot-gun style house at 711 Walnut Street was built as the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church in 1840. When white mobs angry about Underground Railroad activities threatened the congregation with violence in the late 1840s, church leaders asked members to stop their radical abolitionist efforts. Individuals unwilling to give up their association with the Underground Railroad decided to form the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, 309 E. Fifth Street.

The Georgetown Neighborhood contributes to the historic significance of the Madison Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

Plan your visit

The Georgetown Neighborhood, part of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, is located along North Walnut and East Fifth Sts. bordered by Jefferson Street (US 421) to the west and Main St. to the south. Click here for the Network to Freedom page. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

A self-guided walking tour produced by Historic Madison, Inc., Indiana Landmarks, and the Indiana Humanities Council is available at the City of Madison Visitor’s Bureau, 601 W. First St., and at Historic Madison, Inc.'s headquarters at 500 West St.

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