The National Park Service's Heritage Education Services and Midwest Regional Office History and National Historic Landmarks Program, in partnership with the City of Madison and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, proudly invite you to explore historic Madison, Indiana. Located in southern Indiana, Madison is home to a rare collection of hundreds of antebellum buildings, others that predate World War II, and much more. This Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary features the Madison Historic District and highlights 40 historic places and neighborhoods within the district as well as important places close by. The district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a National Historic Landmark on March 20, 2006. In addition to those highlighted in this itinerary, there are hundreds of additional historic buildings and other sites to explore and appreciate during your visit.
Founded in 1809 as a modest Midwestern settlement on the north bank of the Ohio River, Madison soon grew into a bustling port and one of Indiana’s wealthiest towns during the 1820s and 1830s. The Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House and other buildings lining West Second Street show early residents’ desire for fine architecture, a theme echoed in community buildings such as the Second Presbyterian Church and St. Michael the Archangel Church. The 1840s and 1850s were the prosperous “Golden Age” of Madison, with many fine businesses built in the downtown Main Street commercial district. In the surrounding neighborhoods, successful businessmen commissioned architecturally significant homes reflecting their wealth such as the Lanier Mansion, the Shrewsbury House, and many others along Main, West Second, and West Third Streets. Several buildings in the African American neighborhood of Georgetown and elsewhere played important roles in the movement to help slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad in Madison’s antebellum period. Madison also had strong Southern sympathizers including Senator Jesse Bright. A short-lived building boom during the late 1870s and early 1880s led to the construction of early industrial buildings such as the Eagle Cotton Mill and the more modest Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory, and to civic improvements like the Old City Hall and Broadway Fountain. Even though Madison experienced a population decline between 1880 and 1930, the city encouraged the creation of recreational facilities like John Paul Park and the Crystal Beach Pool and Bath House that residents and visitors still enjoy today.
The Madison Travel Itinerary offers several ways to discover places that reflect the Ohio River city’s history:
• Descriptions of each featured destination on the List of Sites highlight the significance of the places and their stories, photographs and other illustrations, and information on how to visit.
• Essays on Architecture, Civic Madison, Industrial Madison, Network to Freedom, The Civil War, Transportation, and Twentieth Century Madison explore topics and provide historical background, or “context,” for many of the buildings and other sites included in the itinerary.
• Maps help visitors plan what to see and do and get directions to places to visit.
• A Learn More section provides links to tourism, history, preservation, general information, and other relevant websites. This section also provides a bibliography.
The Madison itinerary, the 56th in this ongoing series, is part of the Department of the Interior, National Park Service's strategy to promote public awareness of history and encourage visits to historic places throughout the nation. The itineraries are created by a partnership of the National Park Service; the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; and Federal, State, and local governments and private organizations in communities, regions, and heritage areas throughout the United States. The itineraries help people everywhere learn about and plan trips to visit the amazing diversity of this country’s historic places, many of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which the National Park Service expands and maintains. The National Park Service and its partners hope you enjoy this itinerary and others in the series. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on "Comments or Questions" at the bottom of each page.