The Fair Play Fire Company outside its Main Street fire house, c1890.
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Madison, Indiana

Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House

Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House

Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House
Courtesy of Rhonda L. Deeg/Historic Madison, Inc.


Located along the stretch of West Second Street that is home to many of Madison’s fine early 19th-century residences, the Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House is one of the earliest surviving homes in Madison. Dendrochrology recently conducted by nearby Hanover College dated board from the pine roof sheathing back to c.1822. Built for lawyer and politician Jeremiah Sullivan, the house is in the Federal style, with a cubic main brick block perched on a dressed limestone foundation.

Jeremiah Sullivan, a young Virginian lawyer and War of 1812 captain, originally intended to start his own law practice in Louisville, Kentucky. However, once Sullivan reached Cincinnati, a friend persuaded him to settle instead in the thriving river town of Madison, Indiana. He went on to serve as a State legislator and Indiana Supreme Court judge, and helped organize Hanover College and the Indiana Historical Society. He is also credited with suggesting “Indianapolis” as the name of Indiana’s new State capital.

Fireplace in Sullivan House parlor with portrait of Judge Jeremiah Sullivan.

Fireplace in Sullivan House parlor with portrait of Judge Jeremiah Sullivan.
National Park Service

While the house is a fine example of Federal architecture with the style's simplicity and verticality, the side-gable roof and parapet with double chimney harken back to 18th-century Georgian designs. The rear wing is reminiscent of early Federal houses in the Carolinas, Maryland and Virginia, Sullivan’s home State. Simple exterior ornamentation includes white trim around the eaves, front cornice molding, and windows with jack arches and flat stone sills. The façade’s brick is laid in Flemish bond. A front door with sidelights and an elliptical, fanned transom inside an arched brick surround serves as the Sullivan House’s main entrance. The interior features most of the original woodwork and whitewashed plaster, as well as a full basement, an unusual feature in Madison during Sullivan’s time.

The home 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 Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House is located at 304 W. Second St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The house is owned by Historic Madison, Inc. and is open to the public for guided tours from mid-April-October. Admission is charged. For more information, visit the Historic Madison, Inc. website or call 812-265-2967.

The Jeremiah Sullivan House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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