Shewsbury-Windle House; A close up photo of one of the statues in the Broadway Fountain; Old railing detail.
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Madison, Indiana

St. Michael the Archangel Church

St. Michael’s Catholic Church and Rectory

St. Michael’s Catholic Church and Rectory
Courtesy of Larry Hunt

At the eastern end of Third Street pressed against the bluffs that overlook and enclose historic Madison is St. Michael the Archangel Church. Built between 1838 and 1839, this simple Gothic Revival design house of worship is the second oldest Catholic church in Indiana. The construction material for the church is said to have come from the great amount of stone removed during the building of the Madison-Indianapolis Railroad. Many of the same men working on the railroad incline were part of the founding congregation. Most were Irish or German immigrants. Congregation members included local architect Francis Costigan and William Griffin, the Irish immigrant who completed the construction of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad Incline.

The south part of the church is the oldest. In 1865, the church’s nave was extended 20 feet to the north. In order to do this without disruption to the church’s interior, much of the addition is subterranean so that the stained-glass window high in the apse is just a few feet above grade on the exterior. The most prominent architectural detail of the church’s interior is its ogee-arch, or “open book,” ceiling.

The rectory building just west of the church is eye-catching. Constructed between 1859 and 1860, the rectory is of rubble-stone masonry finished with tooled stucco, which gives the building the appearance of ashlar stone. Its Greek Revival styling is much more typical of Madison architecture than the Gothic Revival style of the church. Few of Madison’s buildings are set so picturesquely on the hillside. The priests of St. Michael’s resided in the rectory until 1932. It has been vacant since that time.

The church and rectory contribute 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

St. Michael the Archangel Church is located at 521 E. Third St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The church is owned by Historic Madison, Inc., and is available to tour by appointment only. For more information, visit the Historic Madison, Inc. website or call 812-265-2967.

St. Michael’s Catholic Church has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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