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1st Lanier House; Madison’s Main Street during the 1890s.
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary  
Madison, Indiana

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Introduction
Architecture Essay
Architectural Details Essay
Civic Madison Essay
Industrial Madison Essay
Network to Freedom Essay
Civil War Essay
Transportation Essay
Twentieth Century Essay
Things to Do Essay
List of Sites and Descriptions
Maps (print separately)
Learn More (print separately)
Credits (print separately)

Introduction

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.

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Architecture Essay
The architecture of Madison, Indiana, is special. It is why people from all over the country choose to vacation in the town. Some even chose to relocate to this charming community. Madison’s heritage is clearly visible through its architecture. One sees a building and, through close examination, understands the era in which it was built, its original purpose, and the changes it has undergone over time. The buildings of Madison tell the town’s own true and exciting story. Many already-appealing towns have taken a turn into faux history, attempting to add charm to their communities through the construction of new buildings with historic stylings that try to look old. Madison, wisely, has remained authentic. If a building looks old or historic, then it probably is. Madison is a town without pretense, as it always has been. Just how Madison came to be home to so many notable early buildings is embedded deep in the town’s history, as is the story of how these buildings have been preserved.

After the War of 1812, settlers moved west as fast as the waters of the Ohio River could carry them. Madison found itself one of the budding cities along this busy waterway, though it was always a smaller town than nearby Cincinnati and Louisville. It was part of Indiana’s wealthiest county in 1835. This wealth was not measured in acres, as it often was in other parts of the State. Madison’s soil and terrain were ill-suited for farming. Rather, wealth came in the form of business owners and their enterprises. The success of these early Madison residents is reflected in the fine homes, businesses, and public buildings they built. The wealth of Madison’s early citizens allowed its architect-builders, like Francis Costigan, to replicate the high style architecture of the East with an attention to detail and exactness that was uncommon elsewhere in the Old Northwest Territory.

The architecture for which Madison is so noted dates from the antebellum period of the 1830s through the 1850s. Federal and Greek Revival styles, no doubt guided by publications like Minard Lefever’s Modern Builders’ Guide (1833) and Asher Benjamin’s The Architect (1830), are the most evident in the town. A high number of row houses and double houses were built in Madison during these early years, when it was assumed that the river and commerce, rather than the land, would provide occupation for town residents.

Image details (left to right): The Hendricks-Beall House, at 620 West Main Street, sports an elaborate, iron porch, National Park Service; Even this modest, one-story home features high-style Greek Revival details, like an elaborate entablature, Courtesy of Bradley Miller; A brick, Federal-style house in Madison, Courtesy of Bradley Miller.

While many historic towns sit along the Ohio, few have been so well preserved as Madison. There are a number of reasons for this, the first reflecting the axiom, “poverty is the handmaiden of preservation.” Madison’s wealth and prominence declined sharply after the 1850s, when the expansion of the railroad network gave more towns access to railroad service. A brief economic resurgence in the late 19th century resulted in the construction of many new buildings and the addition of Italianate detailing on some of the Federal style buildings.

This early period of economic decline has, in part, contributed to the preservation of Madison's fine architecture. Had the town declined later, much more disruption of the historic fabric would likely have occurred. This is not to say that Madison has never dealt with demolition or detrimental modifications. One of its greatest losses was its Richardsonian Romanesque post office, which was demolished in 1963. Nationwide during this period, many regrettable demolitions took place. This time also saw the birth of a national preservation movement, which led to the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966.

Historic preservation in Madison can be traced to the 1920s when Drusilla Cravens, granddaughter of banker James F.D. Lanier, restored many houses in Madison, including the Lanier Mansion, which opened to the public as a State Historic Site in 1926. Madison’s modern preservation movement began in 1960, with the organization of Historic Madison, Inc. (HMI), by John T. and Ann Windle. HMI now owns 17 of Madison’s notable historic properties. In 1976, the National Trust for Historic Preservation chose Madison as one of three cities to be part of its pilot Main Street program, which sought to keep historic Main Streets across the country viable places of commerce. In 1988, the Cornerstone Society, Madison’s second preservation group whose mission is advocacy and education, was formed. In 1973, the Madison Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places and on March 20, 2006, the Secretary of the Interior designated the Madison Historic District a National Historic Landmark.

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Architectural Details Essay
Decorative and functional ironwork appears on many of Madison’s historic properties. Lyre, honeysuckle, and palmetto designs as well as spear points, curls, rosettes, and scrolls add style to both cast and wrought iron gates, balconies, fences, and railings. Madison was home to several foundries throughout the 19th century. While the companies first produced stoves, boilers, and other industrial castings, they eventually also designed and manufactured cast iron store fronts, fences, and decorative wrought pieces for Madison houses. Gates and fronts from foundries in Evansville and Muncie, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky are also seen around town.

Fine examples of Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate houses sporting elaborate entrances and doorways line Madison’s streets. Whether it is a pedimented entrance porch supported by grand columns, a simpler wood-panel door with transom and sidelights, or a recessed entry with glasswork and brackets, stylized doorways add an additional layer of character and architectural interest on already impressive facades. Many of the decorative roof and window cornices are made of sheet metal, which became popular after the Civil War.

Gardening has been a popular pastime in Madison since at least the mid-19th century. After James Lanier’s son Alexander inherited the family’s grand Greek Revival mansion in 1861, the younger Lanier created elaborate gardens for the grounds. Not all of Madison’s private gardens are as elaborate as Alexander Lanier’s post-Civil War design, which has been recreated around the Lanier Mansion using period plants, but many line Madison’s residential streets.

The best way to view Madison's architectural details is to explore Madison on foot. Impressive ironwork, entrances, and landscaping can be seen in any of Madison’s streetscapes. See the West Third Street, East Third Street, West Second Street, and Main Street Commercial Buildings' pages for more information about specific neighborhoods.

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Civic Madison Essay
Founded by John Paul and his associates Lewis Davis and Jonathan Lyons, the City of Madison on the Ohio River dates back to 1809. While life in Madison has changed considerably since this early date, the buildings and objects that remain part of Madison’s civic landscape are good reminders of early public concerns and ideas. Many historic buildings retain their original functions, which has contributed to the preservation of the town’s historic civic architecture.

The original plat of Madison included 10 streets. The plat was bounded on the east by East Street, on the west by West Street, on the north by Fourth Street, and on the south by High (now First) Street. Main Cross (now Main) and Main (now Jefferson) Streets were built wider than the other streets, reflecting the founders’ intentions that these were to be the primary arteries through town. Later additions, rather than extending streets outward in the cardinal directions in which they were platted, were laid out with greater emphasis placed on the course of the river. This accounts for the noticeable bend in Main Street at its intersection with West Street.

Improvements to streets included grading and gutters. Many of the streets were graded after significant residences had been built along them. This is apparent on Poplar Lane between First and Second Streets, where the yards of the Schofield and Talbott-Hyatt Houses are contained by high retaining walls and the basements are partially exposed. The houses were constructed at grade. It was only later that Poplar Lane was significantly lowered to ease the transport of goods to and from the river. The historic stone gutters that were also part of street improvements dating back to the 1850s are still visible at many points in the city.

The construction and grading of Ferry Street in 1839 necessitated removal of the city’s first cemetery. The cemetery was located near the intersection of Ferry Street and Park Avenue. Disturbed remains were consolidated in one casket and reinterred at the Third Street Cemetery, now John Paul Park. However, the Third Street Cemetery was abandoned that same year in favor of the new Springdale Cemetery.

Fire was a concern of Madison residents at an early date. In 1830, the city passed an ordinance banning the construction of wood buildings within certain parts of the city. That same year, Madison’s first firefighting group, the Union Volunteer Fire Company, formed. Later in the decade, a brief and failed attempt by the town to support full-time firefighters caused volunteer firemen to reorganize, this time as the Fair Play Fire Company. Several other fire companies subsequently formed and still operate in Madison. In fact, a notable feature of the town is that it still relies solely on the services of volunteer fire companies.

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Industrial Madison Essay

Madison’s riverfront initially attracted 18th century settlers and became its biggest asset during the 1820s and 1830s as the town boomed from steamboat traffic. Steam-powered mills dotted the Ohio riverfront, as a five-story flour mill, saw mill, and cotton and castor oil processing plants appeared during the 1830s. Pork packing also became a major industry, drawing comparisons between Madison and the pork-packing giant Cincinnati. By the 1850s, pork packing had grown exponentially, with 14 packinghouses and warehouses within the city. The wave of wealth associated with meatpacking expanded into other industries as wealthy meat merchants invested in flour mills, including the Magnolia Mill and Griffin’s Wharf and Mill (later sold to Shrewsbury and Price, which renamed it the Palmetto Flour Mill). With a surplus of agricultural products coming into town through connections with the mills and river traffic, breweries including the Madison Brewery, and barley and corn malt manufactories sprang up around Madison.

Madison suffered from the drawback of a sole-source economy, when the pork packing industry declined through the 1850s. The railroad rerouted hogs to other slaughterhouses throughout the Midwest, leaving Madison in an industrial slump. The cycle of success and failure marked the city for the rest of the 19th century. The Civil War stimulated Madison’s economy as foundries and shipbuilders worked to supply the Union Army. Following a decade of economic stability, the economic panics of the 1870s again plagued Madison’s development. A surge in industrial interest during the early 1880s created an economic bubble responsible for many large manufacturing facilities built along the riverfront including the massive Eagle Cotton Mill, the Schofield Woolen Mill, Johnson Starch Works, and Trow’s Mill--one of the largest flour mills in the State of Indiana.

During this time, Madison became the saddletree capital of the Midwest. (Saddletrees are the carved, wooden frames that make the foundation of saddles.) Attracted by southern Indiana’s hardwood forests and the ease of shipping finished products along the Ohio River, German Americans settled in Madison and fostered the industry along Walnut Street and Crooked Creek north of downtown. By 1879, Madison had 12 saddletree factories employing around 125 men and producing over 150,000 saddletrees a year. The Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory, which began during the industry’s peak, stayed in production until the 1970s. The factory produced wooden saddletrees, work gloves, clothespins, and even lawn furniture during the company’s 94 years.

Prosperity was short-lived, however, with Madison’s population dropping from 10,709 in 1880 to 6,530 in 1930, and its industrial output dipping to pre-Civil War lows. The stagnation resulted in the preservation of many 19th century manufacturing sites that may have been demolished for larger factories or updated if business had continued to boom. Need for larger, more modern facilities never threatened the historic manufactories as Madison’s industrial riverfront declined. Examples of surviving small-scale buildings include 116 and 120 Elm Street, which were originally constructed as a carriage house and stables. With foundries and mills in the vicinity, these buildings could have easily been lost. Instead, 120 Elm Street was converted into the Trow Flour Mill Cooperage and then served as a tobacco prizing house from the 1920s into the 1960s.

The industrial sector’s proximity to Madison’s waterfront contributed to its 19th century success and helped facilitate shipping, but its location ultimately led to the demise of many industrial buildings. Larger-scale manufacturers located in Madison struggled to stay in business during the Great Depression. Many massive 1880s buildings once used as warehouses and factories sat empty until the Ohio River flooded Madison in January 1937. Recorded as the worst Ohio River Valley flood in history, water from the river rose to 72 feet, completely covering Vaughn Drive. Crooked Creek’s level rose as well, turning Madison into a peninsula and West Madison into an island connected to the rest of town by only a bridge. The massive destruction downtown claimed most of the industrial buildings, which were either destroyed by floodwaters or severely compromised and later demolished. The flood changed Madison’s use of the riverfront. Property formerly dedicated to factories was converted to recreational areas. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) era Crystal Beach Swimming Pool and Bath House, for example, stands on the former site of the Trow Flour Mill at the corner of Vaughn Drive and Elm Street.

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Network to Freedom Essay

Before the Civil War, the Ohio River marked the separation between southern States that accepted slavery and the free northern States. Border communities along the river became hotbeds for Underground Railroad activity as enslaved freedom seekers crossed into Indiana where free African Americans and anti-slavery whites sheltered them and helped them move further north. Madison’s location along a shallow, narrow section of the Ohio River made it an ideal crossing point, and various creeks draining into the river created easy-to-follow paths northward into rural Jefferson County.

Proximity to the Ohio River gave rise to Madison's Georgetown Neighborhood, a community of free blacks dating back to the 1820s. About 50 African-American families lived in the Georgetown neighborhood, located along Walnut Street north of Main Street. During its peak years in the early 1850s, Georgetown boasted a population of almost 300. Mob violence threatened southern Indiana’s free black communities during the 1840s and 1850s, causing some of Madison’s Underground Railroad leaders such as George DeBaptiste to relocate, but others stayed in Georgetown and continued to help slaves move north until the end of the Civil War.

George DeBaptiste, a well-known Underground Railroad conductor, settled in Madison in 1837. The son of a wealthy, free black family in Virginia, DeBaptiste traveled and worked on Ohio and Mississippi River steamboats as a young man. He started a wholesale shipping venture after moving to Madison in 1837. He gained notoriety for legally challenging the 1831 Indiana law that required African Americans to post a $500 bond to live in the State. After serving as President William Henry Harrison’s “steward of the White House” during the president’s short term, DeBaptiste returned to Madison in 1841 and opened a barber shop at Walnut and Second Streets. This shop became the center of Georgetown Underground Railroad activity with accounts of DeBaptiste helping over 180 freedom seekers between 1841 and 1846. He then moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he continued his anti-slavery efforts. While the barbershop no longer exists, the modest brick buildings on Walnut north of Main Street still look much like they did during DeBaptiste’s time.

Born to a free black woman and later bound to a slave owner, William J. Anderson escaped from a steamboat while traveling on the Ohio River and settled in Madison around 1836. He acquired masonry skills and built a Federal style home at 713 Walnut Street for his wife and himself in 1846. An outspoken abolitionist and activist in the Underground Railroad, he helped organize and build two churches in Georgetown, the Methodist Episcopal Church (1840) and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1849). William Anderson‘s Underground Railroad involvement is outlined in his autobiography, available digitally through the University of North Carolina as part of the Documenting the American South Initiative.

Elijah Anderson (no relation to William J. Anderson) moved to Madison in 1837 and lived at 624 Walnut Street. He worked alongside DeBaptiste and William Anderson as an Underground Railroad conductor. Elijah’s light complexion allowed him to pose as a slave owner and to travel with fugitives via steamboat or railroad all the way to Canada. He claimed to have helped more than 800 freedom seekers during his time in Madison. In 1856, Anderson was arrested on an Ohio River steamboat for transporting a group of enslaved African Americans from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to Cleveland, Ohio. He was sentenced to eight years in a Frankfort, Kentucky, prison for breaking a Kentucky law against “enticing slaves to run away.” The day before Anderson’s March 1861 release he was found dead in his prison cell under mysterious circumstances.

Chapman Harris, a native of Virginia, grew up hearing about the freedom African Americans experienced in Indiana and dreamed of someday living in the State. At the age of 37, he moved his family to a 40-acre farm in Eagle Hollow, a rugged and isolated area east of Madison. Shortly after his 1837 arrival, Harris and his two eldest sons began working with local Underground Railroad leaders. Known for his size and tremendous strength, Harris helped move freedom seekers along the Hanover route toward Lancaster, Indiana. Harris also met the famed abolitionist John Brown when he passed through Indiana a few weeks prior to the attack at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

Located about 10 miles northwest of Madison, the town of Lancaster also has a rich abolitionist history. Founded by a group of New England Baptists with strong anti-slavery sentiments, the rural community of Lancaster became a center for abolitionist activity. A group of activists including Lyman Hoyt, Isaiah Walton, Dr. Samuel Tibbets, and Chapman Harris formed the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 with members both religiously and morally opposing slavery. The Society even petitioned the Indiana General Assembly to repeal laws against harboring fugitive slaves and eventually set its sights on the national political arena when it aligned with the Liberty Party in 1845. Started by Society members in 1846,the Neil’s Creek Abolitionist Baptist Church wrote a disavowal of slavery into its official bylaws. Much of the Anti-Slavery Church’s congregation was active in the Underground Railroad, offering shelter and transportation to fugitive slaves en route to Indianapolis. Members helped build Eleutherian College, founded in 1848 as the first higher education institution in Indiana to integrate by race and gender.

In 1998, the Secretary of the Interior established the National Underground Railroad (UGRR) Network to Freedom Program, a program aimed at preserving, interpreting, and commemorating the history of the Underground Railroad. Through shared partnerships with local, State, and Federal entities, as well as interested individuals and organizations, the Network to Freedom promotes programs and partnerships to preserve sites and resources associated with the Underground Railroad and to educate the public about its historical significance. Eleutherian College, the Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House, the Isaiah Walton Home Site, the Dr. Samuel Tibbets Home Site, and the Tibbets House-- all in rural Lancaster, Indiana; the Chapman Harris Home Site and the John Gill and Martha Wilson Craven Home--outside Madison; and the Georgetown Neighborhood in downtown Madison are part of the National UGRR Network to Freedom Program and are recognized for their significance relating to the Underground Railroad.

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Civil War Essay

Madison was not near the front lines during the Civil War, but the national conflict unfolding between the Union and Confederacy echoed in southern Indiana. Following President Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 call for troops, about 4,500 Madison men volunteered for service, an impressive number considering Madison’s population of 12,500. The town housed a 37-acre Union military hospital that served more than 8,000 wounded soldiers between 1863 and 1865.

Most of the drama related to the Civil War in Madison played out in citizens’ personal lives. Some individuals, like banker and financier James F.D. Lanier, fully supported the North. Others, including Senator Jesse Bright, were strong Southern sympathizers. Many Madison residents, especially those with Southern ties, struggled with family members connected to both sides like the family of Jeremiah Sullivan and Emilie Todd Helm.

While Madison banker James F.D. Lanier had moved away from his spectacular Greek Revival mansion, highlighted in the Architecture section, in 1851 to make a permanent home in New York City, he was a major financial supporter of Indiana’s war effort. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the State of Indiana faced bankruptcy, yet Governor Oliver Morton was determined to heed President Abraham Lincoln’s call for troops and supplies for the war effort. Morton, knowing Lanier was a staunch Union supporter, personally approached the businessman for funds. Lanier offered a $400,000 loan at eight percent interest to help outfit Indiana’s volunteer troops. Later Lanier gave a second unsecured loan of $640,000 toward paying interest on the State’s debt. In 1865 and 1868, James Lanier worked abroad convincing European investors of the United States’ financial stability. Although Lanier needed no guarantee because he saw the loans as his patriotic duty, the State of Indiana repaid his generous line of credit, with interest, by 1870.

Jesse Bright lived in Madison between 1840 and 1857 and served in the U.S. Senate from 1844-1862. While the State of Indiana supported the Union cause, many Madisonians with Southern roots were sympathetic to the South, with some outwardly supporting the Confederacy. Despite Senator Bright’s family connection to New York and his childhood in Madison, Bright was an outspoken Southerner at heart, keeping close ties to Kentucky where he owned property and slaves. He openly argued with pro-Union Madison Courier publisher Michael Garber while in Madison, and fellow senator Stephen Douglas in Washington. In 1862, Bright’s Southern sensibilities led to trouble when a Confederate arms dealer was caught with a letter from Jesse Bright addressed to “His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederation of States.” While Bright defended the note, saying his intentions were pure, the Senate voted to have him expelled, making him only the fourth non-Southern senator expelled during the Civil War.

Prominent Madison citizen Judge Jeremiah Sullivan and his wife Charlotte had seven children who survive into adulthood, two of whom assumed opposing positions during the Civil War. Algernon Sullivan followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a lawyer and marrying native Virginian Mary Mildred Hammond. By the outbreak of the Civil War, Algernon had established a successful practice in New York City. Openly sympathetic to the Confederacy, he defended Southern sailors from the Savannah, the first vessel captured during the Civil War, when the crew was charged with piracy. This led to accusations of disloyalty and a short imprisonment in New York Harbor’s Fort Lafayette. After his release, Algernon served as president of the New York Southern Society, which offered aid to Southerners regardless of race, while Mary Mildred founded the New York Ladies’ Southern Relief Society. The Sullivans' legacy lives on through The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation college scholarships and the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, a practice founded in 1878 that is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious firms in the world.

Younger brother Jeremiah “Jerry” Sullivan, Jr., graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1848 but struggled to find a profession. When President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers, Jerry helped organize the 6th Indiana Volunteers and led the infantry regiment as a captain. Later Governor Oliver Morton appointed Sullivan as colonel of the 13th Indiana, which helped defeat Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Kernstown in March 1862. Following this success, Jerry was commissioned as brigadier general, saw battle in Iuka and Corinth, Mississippi, and served as acting inspector general for Ulysses S. Grant. After he resigned from the army in May 1865, Jerry Sullivan spent some time in Maryland before moving west to California in 1878.

Emilie Todd Helm’s family exemplified the complexities of the Civil War. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Emilie was the daughter of Robert Todd and his second wife, Elizabeth Humphreys Todd. She married Kentucky legislator Benjamin Hardin Helm in 1856. Even though First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln was Emilie’s half-sister, most of Robert Todd’s children from his second marriage supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln offered Ben Helm an army paymaster position which he declined, opting instead to join the Confederate army. After Helm was killed leading the First Kentucky Brigade during the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, Emilie Todd Helm accepted her half-sister’s invitation to the White House. While in Washington the Todd sisters comforted each other over the deaths of Mary’s young son Willie, Emilie’s husband Benjamin, and three Todd brothers who were also killed while fighting for the Confederacy.

After the war, Emilie Todd Helm moved to Elizabethtown, Kentucky and then Madison, Indiana, supporting herself and her children by teaching piano lessons. When offered the position of Elizabethtown postmistress by her nephew Robert Todd Lincoln in 1881, Helm returned to Kentucky and became the first president of the local United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) chapter, which happened to be named after her late husband. She continued to support the UDC and attend Confederate veteran reunions until her death in 1930 at the age of 93.

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Transportation Essay

It would be interesting to know if John Paul, Madison’s founder, was ever aware of his own wisdom in placing Madison on the banks of the Ohio River, halfway between Cincinnati and Louisville. He died in June 1830, just a month before the awarding of contracts to construct the Michigan Road and four years prior to the building of Madison’s first shipyard. In 1836, work on the railroad would begin. One would think that Paul had at least some inkling of just how well-suited Madison's location was for the transportation advances that would soon be made. However, it is impossible to know if John Paul could have imagined just how much Madison would transform in the wake of the Michigan Road, the steamboat, and the railroad developments.

Canoes, flatboats, and keelboats navigated the Ohio River John Paul knew. American Indians and the first explorers used canoes. Early settlers required more room for cargo, which led to the development of the flatboat. The boxy contraption could be built to a great size, but it was difficult to steer and impossible to maneuver upstream. Thus, the flatboat was only sufficient for those who intended to travel downstream and remain there. Once travelers reached their destination, the flatboat could be deconstructed to form a crude dwelling. In fact, accounts of Madison’s first building refer to John Henry and Maria Jane Waggoner’s primitive home as “a tent-like affair of linen wrapped around four saplings, the whole crowned with the wooden deck of their flatboat.”1 A keelboat offered a pointed prow and hull more adept at slicing through the water, which made it easier to both steer and move upstream.

Changes in river travel occurred quickly following the 1811 voyage of the New Orleans, the first steamboat to travel from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Cincinnati produced its first steamboat in 1816. Louisville followed suit, building 103 steamboats by the year 1834. Madison constructed its first shipyard near the base of Ferry Street in 1835 and produced its first steamboat, The Irwinton, the next year. Passing steamboats found Madison a convenient stopping point between Cincinnati and Louisville, and this greatly benefitted downtown business.

At about this same time, the Michigan Road was under construction on Madison’s north side, connecting the town to the State capital and eventually to Lake Michigan. More importantly, the road allowed settlers access to Indiana’s sparsely populated interior.

One final development in transportation boosted Madison into its antebellum golden era-- the establishment of the Madison, Indianapolis, and Lafayette Railroad in Madison in 1836. It was Indiana’s first and, for a time, its only railroad. During that brief span of time when Madison was the sole port in the State for both river and rail, it experienced great growth and wealth. This was the period of construction of many of the town’s finest and lasting buildings.

The railroad, which so greatly spurred Madison’s prosperity, became the cause of Madison’s decline as well. As the network of rails crisscrossing Indiana grew, connecting ever more places, Madison became less significant. Competition brought by the railroad also caused river traffic to decline, as goods could be carried just as or more efficiently via rail. Madison’s picturesque bluffs and river, which had once been its gateways, now seemed to isolate it.

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Twentieth Century Essay

Madison first developed as an Ohio River town and then transformed into a pork packing center with a bustling industrial center during the mid-1800s. By the turn of the 20th century, with most of the slaughterhouses and related meat processing industries gone and few industrial opportunities, Madison was searching for a new identity.

The city began branding itself as a recreational destination as early as the 1920s. When Richard Lieber created the first Indiana State Parks to commemorate the State’s centennial in 1916, a group of Madison citizens decided to push for the creation of a local park. A long-time site for fishing, hikes, and picnics, the bluffs leading down to the Ohio River offered spectacular views and an ideal setting for leisure activities. Representative of the State legislature visited the Madison area and decided Clifty Falls, the site where Little Clifty Creek starts its descent to the Ohio River, would be Indiana’s third State park.

Local businesses and organizations raised the necessary $15,000 to purchase the property west of Madison between State Roads 56 and 62, and Clifty Falls State Park opened in 1920. In 1924, the Clifty Falls Inn opened and served almost 32,000 visitors in its first year. The 1922 guide Madison: A Jewel in Setting ‘Neath the Hills-A Guide to the Visitor Who Loves Nature and Her Wonders, With Maps and Photoengravings of the Most Famous Falls, Caves, Caverns, Cliffs, Vales, and River Views Surrounding Her,1 published by the Madison Democrat, illustrates the 20th-century shift from courting businesses to courting tourists. As the introduction states, “The entire aim of this book is to show the world what Madison is and has to offer our visitors, both its scenic beauty and wonders, and hospitality, and as a most desirable place in which to dwell, and do business.”

For guests looking for less tranquility and more action, Madison hosted its first major regatta in 1929. Building on years of boat racing along the Ohio River, the Ohio Valley Motorboat Association organized the Labor Day Weekend events in which powerboats competed on a two-and-a-half mile course. The Madison Regatta soon gained a following and attracted teams from throughout the Midwest during its initial eight year run.

Depression-era programs helped shape Madison’s 20th-century landscape. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was an agency created as part of the National Housing Act of 1934 to regulate interest and mortgage terms. During the mid-1930s, the FHA constructed model homes across the country. The simple, single-family houses represented the type of homes affordable through FHA programs and utilized local sponsors and donors for building materials and labor. During construction, the homes acted as demonstration sites where contractors or homeowners could learn basic homebuilding techniques and see how to install the latest home technology, including modern kitchen equipment and utility rooms with integrated mechanical systems. Madison was one of only two Indiana cities outside Indianapolis chosen by the FHA as a site for one of the agency’s model homes, a colonial-style residence built at 311 West Third Street in 1936.

Clifty Falls State Park became the basecamp for Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews during the late 1930s. Within the State park the CCC created trails and roads that complemented the site’s landscape, while the WPA constructed the Guthrie Memorial Entrance on the south edge of the park in 1938. The workers got a special visitor when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt toured “Camp Clifty” in the 1930s to see the two programs in action. The WPA also tackled a downtown riverfront lot left vacant after a major January 1937 flood destroyed the Trow Flour Mill. The agency’s Municipal Improvement section erected the Crystal Beach Swimming Pool and Bath House using stone from demolished 19th-century factories to create the building’s characteristic WPA appearance. At the height of construction, 70 men worked on the pool and recreation center. At the 1939 dedication ceremony, over 3,000 Madison residents attended a program including swimming and diving shows, speeches by city, state, and WPA officials, and musical entertainment, all broadcast live by a Louisville radio station.

The Federal projects completed during the Depression could have some bearing on Madison’s next claim to fame during World War II. The Office of War Information selected Madison as the subject of its short film The Town (1943). The film was directed by Joseph von Sternberg, a well-known Hollywood director who had previously collaborated with Marlene Dietrich for seven films including The Blue Angel. Created as part of The American Scene series, the film depicted Madison as the model American town where citizens embodied American ideals and values. The Town was produced to be shown overseas to remind troops what they were fighting to preserve and to demonstrate American cultural values to foreigners. It was translated into 32 languages.

The 1950s brought excitement to the sleepy Ohio River town. Boat racing was again an attraction with the return of small, locally-sponsored races in 1949. The Indiana’s Governor’s Cup, an officially sanctioned American Powerboat Association race introduced in 1951, elevated the level of Madison’s powerboat racing and became the basis of the annual Madison Regatta held over the Fourth of July Weekend.

Hollywood again visited Madison in 1957. Movie director Vincent Minnelli chose Madison to portray the fictitious Midwestern town of Parkman in the film Some Came Running. The film starred Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in their first film together and Shirley MacLaine in an Academy Award-nominated performance. During the three weeks of filming most of the cast and crew stayed at the Hillside Inn, but Sinatra and Martin rented the house next to the inn and constantly had to fend off overzealous female fans who would sometimes stand four people deep outside the stars’ windows.

Movie producers and tourists alike have enjoyed Madison’s scenery and sites throughout the years. The same appealing assets that attracted people during the 20th century remain today. The combination of natural beauty and notable architecture continues to bring visitors to the area to hike Clifty Falls State Park’s trails, watch the Ohio Theater’s annual showing of Some Came Running, walk the tree-lined, architecturally distinct streets, or antique shop along Main Street.

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Things to Do Essay

Madison offers a wide array of entertaining options for guests visiting the city. Annual events including the famous Madison Regatta, the Nights Before Christmas Holiday Tour, Ribberfest, the RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival, and the Chautauqua Festival of Art bring the community and visitors together to share in music, food, and good times.

Those who want to get out and explore can take a relaxing stroll along the riverfront or down one of Madison’s many tree-lined streets. Browse unique shops along Main Street and marvel at the architecture that led to the town’s National Historic Landmark designation. Many historic properties are open to the public, so stop by and tour the Lanier Mansion, Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House, Dr. William Hutchings’ Office, Schofield House, or the Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory. The Tri Kappa Tour of Homes and the Madison in Bloom Garden Tour, offered every other year, allow rare views inside private residences and gardens throughout the historic district. For a broader look at Madison’s past, visit the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, partially housed in an 1894 railroad station, or take one of Cornerstone Society’s or Visit Madison, Inc.’s themed walking tours.

For the more adventurous, Clifty Falls State Park’s hiking trails range in difficulty from easy to very rugged and include breathtaking views of the Ohio River and the waterfall that gives the park its name. The Madison Heritage Trail follows the historic Madison and Indianapolis Railroad tracks from downtown Madison up the hill to the Madison State Hospital grounds. Start at the trailhead at the corner of Vaughn and Vernon Streets to take advantage of the shaded trail for exercise or recreation.

To relax after a busy day, pop into one of Madison’s three wineries or enjoy a bite to eat at a locally owned restaurant downtown. Whatever you choose to do, Madison’s beauty and its citizens’ hospitality should make your stay an enjoyable one!

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List of Sites
Architecture
Architectural Details
Charles Shrewsbury House
Christ Episcopal Church
Crawford-Whitehead-Ross House
East Third Street
First Baptist Church
Francis Costigan House

Lanier Mansion
Madison Historic District
Main Street Commercial Buildings
Second Presbyterian Church
St. Michael the Archangel Church
Trinity United Methodist Church
West Second Street
West Third Street

Civic Madison
Broadway Fountain
Fair Play Fire Company No. 1 Fire House
Jefferson County Courthouse and Sheriff's Residence & Jail
John Paul Park
Old Madison City Hall
Springdale Cemetery
Washington Fire Company No. 2

Industrial Madison
Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory
Eagle Cotton Mill
Greiner Brewery
HMI Warehouses
Trolley Barn

Network to Freedom
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building
Georgetown Neighborhood

Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House
Madison Historic District

Civil War
Emilie Todd Helm House
Jesse Bright House
Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House

Transportation
Madison Railroad Incline Cut
Madison Railroad Station
Michigan Road

Twentieth Century
Clifty Falls State Park
Crystal Beach Pool and Bath House
Federal Housing Administration Model Home

Things to Do
Madison Regatta
Special Events

 

Architectural Details

Decorative and functional ironwork appears on many of Madison’s historic properties. Lyre, honeysuckle, and palmetto designs as well as spear points, curls, rosettes, and scrolls add style to both cast and wrought iron gates, balconies, fences, and railings. Madison was home to several foundries throughout the 19th century. While the companies first produced stoves, boilers, and other industrial castings, they eventually also designed and manufactured cast iron store fronts, fences, and decorative wrought pieces for Madison houses. Gates and fronts from foundries in Evansville and Muncie, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky are also seen around town.

Fine examples of Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate houses sporting elaborate entrances and doorways line Madison’s streets. Whether with a pedimented entrance porch supported by grand columns, a simpler wood-panel door with transom and sidelights, or a recessed entry with glasswork and brackets, stylized doorways add an additional layer of character and architectural interest on already impressive facades. Many of the decorative roof and window cornices are made of sheet metal, which became popular after the Civil War.

Gardening has been a popular pastime in Madison since at least the mid-19th century. After James Lanier’s son Alexander inherited the family’s grand Greek Revival mansion in 1861, the younger Lanier created elaborate gardens for the grounds. Not all of Madison’s private gardens are as elaborate as Alexander’s post-Civil War design, which has been recreated around the Lanier Mansion using period plants, but many line Madison’s residential streets.

Plan your Visit:
Madison’s architectural details are best seen while exploring the historic district by foot. Impressive ironwork, entrances, and landscaping can be seen in any of Madison’s streetscapes. See the West Third Street, East Third Street, West Second Street, and Main Street Commercial District pages for more information about specific neighborhoods.

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Charles Shrewsbury House

Built by Madison architect Francis Costigan between 1846 and 1849, the Shrewsbury House is a Greek Revival masterpiece. Costigan designed the Shrewsbury House for Captain Charles L. Shrewsbury, a Virginia native who earned his fortune as a commission merchant, meat packer, and as part owner of the Palmetto Flour Mill. Shrewsbury also served as mayor of Madison from 1870 to 1872.

The cubic house features a wide entablature with dentils and frieze-band windows. Two main entrances, located at the front and rear of the house, lead into a central hall. A one-story porch over the garden entrance is supported by two tall, fluted columns, while the recessed First Street entrance features a lintel decorated with a center anthemion (fan-shaped palm frond). The lower-story windows flanking the entrance have iron balconettes with a palmette design, possibly symbolic of Shrewsbury’s involvement with the Palmetto Flour Mill. The interior’s vertical emphasis is conveyed through high ceilings, tall doors, the two pairs of fluted columns dividing the drawing room, and the pilasters found in corners and around the 13-foot windows.

The centerpiece of the Shrewsbury home is its freestanding, self-supporting, spiral staircase that is considered one of Costigan’s most dramatic architectural achievements. Located in the middle of the front hall and extending the entire height of the house, the staircase is a visual and architectural wonder. The staircase’s weight is concentrated on the bottom step and supported by the end of each subsequent pine step. While Costigan’s grand staircase serves an aesthetic purpose, it also functions as an early form of air conditioning. Its spiral shape facilitates air flow, moving warm air to the house’s top floor where it may be released through attic windows.

Inspired by the Shrewsbury House’s masterful design, retired Chicago librarian John Windle and his wife Ann purchased the house in 1948 and set about preserving its historic appearance and character. In 1960, the couple founded Historic Madison, Inc. (HMI), an organization dedicated to preserving Madison’s sizable historic district.

The home contributes to the historic significance of the Madison Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places; it was also designated an individual National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1994.

Plan your Visit:
The Shrewsbury House, a National Historic Landmark owned by Historic Madison, Inc., is located at 301 W. First St. Click here for the Shrewsbury House National Historic Landmark file: text and photos and here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Shrewsbury House is open by appointment only. For more information, please visit the Historic Madison, Inc. website or contact HMI at 812-265-2967.

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

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Christ Episcopal Church

Christ Episcopal Church is the second building occupied by the Madison Episcopal parish, which was founded in 1835. Members met in various local buildings before constructing their first permanent church building in 1838. Located at Main and Grafton Streets, the first church suffered from its remote location, and the members decided to sell the 1838 building to Madison’s German Lutheran congregation. After purchasing a lot on Mulberry Street, the church vestry requested a building that resembled St. John’s Church in Louisville, initially asking St. John’s architect John Stirwalt to modify the Kentucky plans to meet the Madison congregation’s specifications. When Stirwalt did not respond, the vestry replaced him with William Russell West (one of the architects to work on the Ohio State Capitol), who designed the church to meet their expectations.

Dedicated in 1850, the brick church embodies the Gothic Revival style with its high-pitched roof, pointed arch windows and doors, and petite brick buttresses set between each window along the north and south walls. A brick tower with a steeple, pointed arch vents, and a cross-shaped finial completes the look. The original iron fence West designed still surrounds the churchyard. Inside, the church is remarkably well-preserved retaining much of its historic character. Dark, wood scissor trusses support the sanctuary ceiling. The only major changes to the building occurred in 1904 with the reconfiguration of the pews to create a center aisle, the expansion of the choir loft, and the installation of electricity.

Christ Episcopal Church is known for its American-made stained glassed windows. The Henry Hannen Co. from Pittsburgh created the west windows installed during the church’s construction. The Hannen Co. also made lancet windows for the east side, but the congregation rejected them after their initial installation, claiming the church was overcharged and the poor quality detracted from the building’s architecture. In 1851, lancet windows from Cincinnati firm I.C. and D.S. Miller and Co. replaced the originals. The 1851 East Window consists of three Gothic panels, called tryches, and a small rose window.

The church 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:
Christ Episcopal Church is located at 506 Mulberry St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The church office is open daily from 9:00am until 12:00pm. For more information, visit the Christ Episcopal Church website or call 812-265-2158.

Christ Episcopal Church has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.

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Crawford-Whitehead-Ross House

Located on West Main Street just outside the downtown commercial district, the Crawford-Whitehead-Ross House encapsulates the evolution of Madison’s residential neighborhoods.  A Federal style town house before the Civil War, the home changed over time and had its Italianate exterior features added later in the 19th century. The Crawford-Whitehead-Ross House is a fine example of buildings that combine Federal and Italianate characteristics in Madison, where there are a number of illustrations of this type.

While the date of construction of the house is not absolutely certain and at least one local authority claims that none of it was built before 1852, the National Register of Historic Places documentation suggests that Samuel Crawford likely constructed the house in the early 1830s.  Crawford acquired the lot on which the house sits for $200 in 1833, and sold the property in 1836 for $3,000, leading to the assumption that he built the original two-story house during the time he owned the property.

The Crawford-Whitehead-Ross Federal townhouse was modified by subsequent owners interested in newer architectural styles fashionable during later periods of Madison’s development.  If Crawford constructed the original hall-and-parlor house in the early 1830’s, the modest two-story residence consisted of four rooms, two on each floor, and resembled the house across the street, 509 West Main. Curving the southeast corner of the house, a feature not seen in Madison on any other building of this era, added a bit of unexpected character. The house also had a cantilevered, wrap-around second story balcony. It later became the service wing.

Jesse and Rebecca Whitehead purchased the property in 1852, and an 1854 map of the city shows the larger main portion of the house as complete and fronting Main Street. It emulated the Federal townhouse design of early Madison buildings like the Jeremiah Sullivan House at 304 West Second Street.

The more drastic exterior changes probably occurred after Isom Ross bought the house in 1872, during the period when the Italianate style was at the peak of its popularity. The roofline was raised by 2 ½ feet to accommodate a thick, decorative cornice, and the roof was changed to a steeper, more desirable pitch and covered with a patterned, slate tile. New metal lintels were added above the Main Street windows.

Many of the grand houses within the Madison Historic District have similar stories, with additions and decorative details borrowing from later architectural styles. By adding a cornice or decorative scrollwork and glass-panel doors, homeowners morphed simple Federal designs into ornate Italianate or Victorian styles.

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; it is also individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Plan your Visit:
The Crawford-Whitehead-Ross House, which is now now the Azalea Manor Bed-and-Breakfast, is located at 510 W. Main St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. For more information or to make a reservation, visit the Azalea Manor website or call 812-274-4059 between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm EST.

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East Third Street

The East Third Street area is a residential neighborhood with an assortment of small community buildings, including a number of churches. The district is two blocks long, extending from Jefferson Street past West Street. It includes properties on side streets that are within a block of Third Street. The best way to see this neighborhood is on foot.

At 217 East Third Street is the former German Methodist Episcopal Church, now the Faith Covenant Church. This simple, gable-front building of the 1870s possesses pointed-arch windows, which give it a modest hint of Gothic Revival style. Just around the corner is another historic church, the Christ Episcopal Church, which is described in greater detail in this itinerary here. The house located north of the church, at 510 Mulberry Street, features an intricate, cast-iron porch that dates to 1854.

Farther west on Third Street, at 113 East Third Street, is a large, brick, gable-front building that was built as the Radical Methodist Church about 1830. Between 1867 and 1869, this building served as the place of worship for Madison’s Jewish community. Just a couple buildings away is the historic Second Presbyterian Church, a landmark example of Greek Revival architecture that was built in 1835. Across West Street from the church is the Donlan House, which was constructed around 1895. Michael Donlan was a local banker and one of the owners of the Indiana Foundry. His family home is a rare and well-executed example of Queen Anne style in Madison. Next door to the Donlan House is the 1848 Washington Fire Company No. 2, which is the oldest fire house in town.

Across the street from the Donlan House, where there is now a parking lot and Lytle Park, once stood a grand post office, built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. It has been said that this local landmark’s unfortunate demolition in 1963 fueled Madison’s modern preservation movement. West of this site are examples of Madison townhouses, some of which were altered in the 1870s with Italianate ornamentation.

Most of the homes on East Third Street 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:
The East Third Street neighborhood extends from Jefferson Street past West Street and on side streets within a block of Third Street. While most of buildings described above are private residences and not open to the public, visitors to Madison may walk by these buildings to capture a sense of their historic significance. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

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First Baptist Church

The First Baptist Church houses the oldest Baptist congregation in Indiana. Started in 1807, the Crooked Creek Baptist Church first met in a cabin on the hilltop outside Madison. In 1831, the congregation sold that church, purchased a lot in Madison on Vine Street, and constructed the Madison Baptist Church. When the membership outgrew the church, the trustees decided to demolish the 1831 building and replace it with a larger one. Construction began in 1853, and the existing church was complete in 1860. Major later additions include the tracker pipe organ the ladies of the church purchased in 1901, the 1904 baptistery, stained glass windows received as a gift to the church in 1907, and a 1964 education wing addition to the rear.

The building follows a Greek Revival design, with Tuscan pilasters and recessed segmental-arched panels punctuating the cement-covered brick walls. The low-pitch front gable creates a pediment that is repeated on a smaller scale and held by scrolled brackets over the front entrance. Fixed stained glass windows are found on both the first and second stories of the front facade and the sides’ upper story. The center entrance opens to a vestibule and fellowship hall while curved side staircases lead to the second-story sanctuary. The sanctuary, which still has its pews in the original side aisle formation, runs the length of the building. A raised platform opposite the stairs forms the chancel, with the impressive organ with exposed pipes placed in the center of the platform and the 1904 baptistery located to the right.

The First Baptist Church 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 First Baptist Church is located at 416 Vine St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The First Baptist Church is open to the public and offers various Sunday services as well as special events. For more information, visit the First Baptist Church website, or call 812-265-2331.

First Baptist Church has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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Francis Costigan House

The prominent Madison architect Francis Costigan built this townhouse for his family in 1850. Born in Washington D.C. in 1810, Costigan trained in Baltimore and was heavily influenced by New York architect Minard Lafever. Soon after arriving in Madison in 1837, Costigan began designing local buildings including the Lanier and Shrewsbury homes, both of which are now individual National Historic Landmarks. In 1852, Costigan moved to Indianapolis where he continued his architectural career until his death in 1865.

The Francis Costigan House is considered a marvel in urban design with Costigan fitting the stylistic details associated with Greek Revival homes onto a 22-foot wide city lot. The two-story, red brick building is rectangular in plan with sandstone foundation and small basement windows on the façade. The house’s large windows have sandstone sills and slightly pedimented lintels. A projecting cornice with dentils and beading creates an entry portico supported by two Egyptian-influenced columns. The portico also sports a detailed coffered ceiling, an unexpected stylistic addition. Another thick cornice with decorative dentils follows the façade’s roofline.

Costigan’s architectural mastery continues on the house’s interior. The main entrance contains a sliding pocket door, which allowed Costigan improved use of the interior space usually reserved for a hinged front door. The drawing room’s tall windows and door embody the vertical emphasis seen in many of Costigan’s houses and the room’s bowed southeast end, complete with curved door, allows for a small entry hall. The high-style room has dual cast-iron fireplaces in black wood mantels embellished with carved ogee designs and gilded egg-and-dart molding. Straight flights of stairs from the hall and the dining room meet at a small second-floor landing and are separated by a removable swinging gate.

In all, 14 Costigan-designed homes still stand in Madison’s National Historic Landmark district. Preservation group Cornerstone, Inc. offers a pamphlet and walking tour of the homes. The Francis Costigan House 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 Francis Costigan House, a property owned by Historic Madison, Inc., is located 408 W. Third St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Francis Costigan House is open to the public mid-April through October. Admission is charged. For more information about visiting the house, see the Historic Madison, Inc. website or call 812-265-2967. For more information on the Architecture of Francis Costigan pamphlet and walking tour, e-mail info@cornerstonesocietyinc.org.

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

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Lanier Mansion

Recognized as a masterpiece of the Greek Revival style, this elegant house overlooking the Ohio River was built for banker James Franklin Doughty Lanier in 1843 and 1844. At the time Lanier lived in the mansion, there were iron foundries to the north and east, the railroad station to the west, and Lanier’s own wharf and warehouses to the south-all long gone. The house today has an unobstructed view of the Ohio River.

Local architect Francis Costigan designed the house, which would become known as his finest work. The home’s cubic form features Greek Revival characteristics such as the south portico supported by colossal Corinthian columns; a large, dentilled entablature broken by round, frieze windows; decorative window crowns and cresting. The interior is equally ornamented, and is most noted for its spiral staircase that gracefully occupies the east wall of the entry hall. Curved doors, a feature used elsewhere by Costigan, are found within the house as well. As in many of his other works, Costigan drew directly from the pattern books of New York architect Minard Lafever in designing the house.

Lanier was one of the most powerful and influential people in Indiana during the first half of the 19th century because of the role he played in promoting the State’s banking and railroad industries. He lived in Madison until 1851, when he moved to New York City to establish a new banking house there. He maintained ties to Indiana, and during the Civil War years, loaned the State over one million dollars. These funds allowed Governor Oliver P. Morton to continue contributing to the war effort, despite the Indiana legislature’s failure to appropriate funds. A significant number of legislators either sympathized with the South or wished for Indiana to take a neutral stance.

The Lanier Mansion remained in the Lanier family until 1917, when it was donated to the Jefferson County Historical Society. Shortly after, in 1925, the home was transferred to the State, and it has been operated as a State Historic Site ever since.

The Lanier Mansion 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; it was also designated as an individual National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1994.

Plan your Visit:
The Lanier Mansion, a property of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, is located at 601 W. First St. Click here for the National Register of Historic Places nomination file for Lanier Mansion: text and photos. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark nomination: text. Lanier Mansion is open to the public daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm with the last tour beginning at 4:00pm. For more information, visit the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites website or call 812-265-3526.

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Madison Historic District

The National Historic Landmark Madison Historic District is tucked away in limestone bluffs on the banks of the Ohio River in southern Indiana. The more than 130 block historic district is the home of a superb and very large collection of historic buildings. Together they reflect nearly every period of the town’s development between 1817 and 1939, ranging from Federal style and Greek Revival mansions to vernacular shotgun houses to institutional and industrial buildings and a vibrant Main Street commercial area lined with two and three story historic buildings. Visitors will enter a place that is still a compelling and lively embodiment of pre-World War II small town America. As a hotbed of antislavery activity and an important stop on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War, the historic district also brings alive the story of abolitionism and the flight of slaves from bondage to freedom and those who helped them escape. In Madison, free African Americans established a community with commercial enterprises and independent households.

Incorporated in 1809, Madison quickly established itself as a significant cultural and industrial town in the Old Northwest Territory. Sitting prominently on the Ohio River between the hubs of Cincinnati and Louisville, the town became a lifeline for transportation and industry in the middle territories of the country. Waterfront factories drew commerce and wealth to the town, attracting settlers from the East Coast. Along with an entrepreneurial spirit, settlers brought to Madison architectural styles and cultural practices that flourished.

Federal style architecture, first adopted by wealthy merchants in New England, is the most common style found in Madison. Well over 400 Federal style buildings grace the district. The Jeremiah Sullivan House at 304 West Second Street and a group of Federal rowhouses in the 500 block of Jefferson Street illustrate the very fancy (Sullivan House) and more modest (Federal rowhouses) characteristics of Federal balance and symmetry. Greek Revival style architecture of the same period is marked by small porches and columned entryways reminiscent of Greek temples. Architect Francis Costigan built a number of notable Greek Revival buildings in Madison, including the J. F. D. Lanier Mansion at 601 West First Street and the Charles Shrewsbury House at 301 West First Street. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, the talented Costigan drew inspiration from the work of great architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe and brought west some of the fine architectural craftsmanship for which Madison is so remarkable today.

In addition to spurring industry, the Ohio River also served as a major transportation network for the Underground Railroad and established Madison as a center in the freedom-seeking movement. This history can be traced today through the noteworthy extant buildings associated with the abolitionist movement and its leaders, a distinction acknowledged when the area was named the first Underground Railroad historic district to become part of the National Park Service Network to Freedom. Although the region was relatively tolerant, a fair number of pro-slavery supporters resided in pre-Civil War Madison. The division between pro and anti slavery supporters in Madison was indicative of the dangerous struggle between free and slave States taking place on a national scale in the United States before the Civil War.

Despite opposition from slavery sympathizers, African Americans were able to carve out a strong community in Madison. The Georgetown Neighborhood served as the center of this community and today preserves a number of churches, businesses, and residences of free, antebellum African Americans. William Anderson formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church at 309 East Fifth Street in 1849. The building was a gathering place for the free African American community in Madison and a crucial first stop along the Underground Railroad in a free State. Madison continued to be an important center for African American life after the Civil War.

Increased stability after the war brought renewed industry, marked by the construction of factories and residences. One well-known factory still standing today is the Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory at 106 Milton Street, which made wooden saddletrees for 94 years. In 2002, the building became the Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum where visitors can learn about the making of saddletrees and the importance of industrial heritage in Madison. Along with the growth of manufacturing came the need for more homes. Industrial workers typically lived in simple, rectangular buildings commonly called “shotgun houses” whose rooms were stacked one against the other with no halls or passageways for circulation. A very modest example of a shotgun house is located on 422 East Street.

More elaborate homes for wealthier individuals took on popular post-Civil War styles of Italianate and Gothic Revival architecture, inspired by the Pictureseque Movement from England. Many buildings along Main Street were either built in the Italianate style or had embellishments added later that were typical of Italianate architecture, including large cornice bracketing and round-arched doors. The Stribling House at 625 West Second Street, which dates from around 1840, was intentionally altered to suit the popular style of the time with the addition of pressed metal over the front door surrounded by two elaborate scrolls. The Stribling House also has a remarkable ornamental iron fence, a tribute to both the wealth of the owners and the use of the river to transport such industry.

Notable examples of 20th century styles include a prime example of Art Deco architecture, the Brown Memorial Gymnasium at 120 Broadway. Constructed in 1924 and added to in 1939, the building is marked by a huge concrete frame above the main entrance and surface sanded to make it appear like stone. While the Depression temporarily halted most construction in Madison, some public funds were allocated for facilities such as the Crystal Beach Pool and Bath House at 400 West Vaughn Drive. The Works Progress Administration built this important recreational asset that was dedicated in 1939 and is still being used by the community today.

The U.S. Office of War Information recognized Madison's visual and emotional appeal by selecting the community as the subject of its 1945 film “The Town.” The historic, picturesque, and friendly small town of Madison personified and demonstrated to the world the quality of life and American values that were so at stake in World War II for the United States.

Today, citizens of Madison and visitors alike find much to experience and enjoy in the Madison Historic District with its fine collection of historic commercial, institutional, and residential buildings and its quaint streets, public parks, and gardens. The district offers many attractions including a variety of restaurants and cafes, antique and other specialty stores, bed and breakfasts, and more. It also serves as a backdrop for annual festivals such as the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art and the RiverRoots Music and Folk Art Festival.

Plan your Visit:
The Madison Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, is located in Madison, in southeastern Indiana, roughly one hour northeast of Louisville, KY and one hour southwest of Cincinnati, OH. Click here for the National Historic Landmark file: text. Historic Madison, Inc. operates the Sullivan House, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Saddletree Factory Museum. The Historic Madison, Inc., administrative offices are located at 500 West St., Madison, Indiana 47250. For more information, visit the Historic Madison, Inc. website, call 812-265-2967, or email hmihmfi@seidata.com.

27 individual and five multiple sites within the Madison Historic District have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey. Four engineering sites have been recorded by the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record. Two individual National Historic Landmarks lie within the historic district, the Charles Shrewsbury House and the J.F.D. Lanier State Historic Site.

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Main Street Commercial Buildings

Madison's historic Main Street Commercial Buildings extend approximately 15 blocks east to west along Main Street. Commercial buildings stand on the east side of town near Walnut Street and as far west as just past Cragmont Street. They also line the side streets within a block or so of Main Street. Development began in the area in 1811, but no buildings from that first era of Madison history have survived. The city passed a local ordinance in 1830 that required all new buildings in certain parts of the downtown to be constructed of masonry. This not only reduced the threat of fire, but resulted in more substantial commercial architecture with a better chance of surviving into the future. Intended to stop the spread of fire, this early law allowed much of Madison’s early commercial architecture to survive until today. Shoppers can enjoy and appreciate the scale and appeal of this impressive group of historic buildings.

Dating to 1836, 407 West Main Street is one of the oldest remaining commercial buildings on Main Street. Its Federal style is representative of most of the architecture constructed in Madison at that time. A building of approximately the same age once stood next door to 407 West Main Street. Next to that, at the corner of Broadway and Main Streets, the Broadway Hotel and Tavern began operations in 1834. During the early 20th century the business moved south a block and reopened at 313 Broadway Street, where it still operates today.

Three very interesting later additions to Madison’s commercial downtown are in the 100 block of East Main Street. At 101 East Main is a building unlike any other in Madison; a Beaux Arts design detailed with elaborate shields on either side of the façade and a central, second-story pediment over a window. To the east of this building is a stately Italianate block. During the prosperous 1870s, many Madisonians constructed new buildings in the Italianate style of the day, while others remodeled their older, Federal-style buildings with Italianate details, like window hoods or brackets. Originally constructed in the Italianate style, the next building to the east, 105 East Main, suffered a fire and many alterations. Today, the building is known as the Ohio Theater and is a typical reflection of a mid-20th century movie theater with its classic marquee lighting the street at night.

Perhaps the most notable commercial architecture on Main Street is the Masonic Building at 217-219 East Main Street. Constructed from 1871 to 1872, it is one of the few examples of Second Empire style in Madison. John Temperly, a second-generation Madison architect, designed this building with its Mansard roof, fine stone carving around the storefront windows, and artful central gable.

Other historic buildings that make up the fabric of Madison’s Main Street include the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Sheriff’s Residence and Jail, and the Fair Play Fire House. These are described in more detail in their individual travel itinerary entries under Civic Madison.

Most of the commercial buildings in historic downtown Madison contribute to the 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:
Most of the buildings on Main Street are businesses open to the public during regular business hours. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

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Second Presbyterian Church

Built in 1835, the handsome Second Presbyterian Church is considered the oldest community building in Madison and an exceptional example of a Greek Revival temple plan in the Midwest. It is attributed to architect Edwin J. Peck, though it is possible that the nationally-significant architecture firm Town and Davis designed the building and Peck supervised the construction. Smooth white stucco walls and a high foundation with 11 steps leading to the main level create the temple appearance characteristic of public Greek Revival buildings. A low, unadorned pediment sits over a wide entablature that includes a string of triglyphs in the frieze. The façade is supported by six massive pilasters, three on each side, and two fluted, Doric columns that support the central, recessed entryway. Large, wood double-doors lead into the body of the church while two side entrances open into anterooms.

The sanctuary features the church’s original 1867 Johnson tracker organ which was used during services until 1961 and restored in 1984. The instrument includes all its original parts, components, fixtures, accessories, and wood pipes inscribed with the names of prominent Madison individuals. The original, vaulted ceiling of the church featured square coffers ornamented by rosettes. It was renowned as some of the finest plasterwork in the region.

In 1833, as part of a schism of the the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America known as the Old School/New School Division, Madison's Presbyterian Church split into First Presbyterian and Second Presbyterian.  This separation would last until the congregations reunited as Madison Presbyterian Church in the early 1920s. Prior to the building of Second Church, members met in a Masonic hall. The trustees of the new church constructed this Greek Revival temple on East Third Street. Here, during its early years, the church hosted noted abolitionist Rev. Henry Beecher for a revival service. Second Presbyterian members continued to use the building until the congregation rejoined the First Presbyterian Church in the early 1920s. The Second Presbyterian Church building then served as a funeral home throughout the 1920s before being converted into St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at the end of the decade. Shortly after the founding of the local non-profit preservation organization in 1960, Historic Madison, Inc. acquired the property and began using the building as its headquarters.

The church 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 Second Presbyterian Church, now known as the John T. Windle Auditorium, is located at 101 E. Third St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The church is owned by Historic Madison, Inc. The Windle Auditorium is open to the public by appointment and during special events. For more information, visit the Historic Madison, Inc., website or call 812-265-2967.

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St. Michael the Archangel Church

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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Trinity United Methodist Church

The spire of Trinity United Methodist Church is visible from many points in Madison. Seen from across the river, from the hilltop, and from Main Street, the slender spire serves to orient visitors and locals alike.

This Gothic Revival church was built in 1873 according to the design of B.V. Enos and Son of Indianapolis. The brick church’s steeply-pitched gable faces Broadway Street and features a centrally-located main entrance. The bell tower stands at the southeast corner of the church, with horizontal bands of limestone dividing it into four parts. Limestone also ornaments the Gothic windows. A pinnacle terminated by metal finial projects above the roofline on the north side of the entrance. Another metal finial, in the shape of the cross, sits atop the gable. Buttresses that are a frequent feature in true Gothic architecture were unnecessary in this Gothic Revival building. However, a nod to historic building technique is apparent in the petite brick projections capped by limestone along the sides of the church, where buttresses historically would have been placed. Many local craftsmen contributed to its construction. Installed between 1900 and 1905, the current windows came from the studio of W. Coulter and Son of Cincinnati.

In 1967, an educational wing was added to the original church’s west end. It stretches to the south and has its own entrance on West Main Street. This 20th century addition mimics features of the original Gothic Revival church with the pitch of its roof, brick walls, and miniature decorative buttresses.

The church 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 Trinity United Methodist Church, an active church, is located at 412 W. Main St., although the historic façade faces Broadway Street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The church is open from 8:00am to 4:00pm Monday through Thursday. Sunday church service is held at 10:30am. For more information, call 812-265-3059.

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West Second Street

West Second Street is characterized by its mix of stately homes and humble cottages, which are unified by tree-lined streets and an appreciation for gardening among the district’s residents. The neighborhood extends westward from Central Avenue to Cragmont Street, containing a total of nine blocks, and also includes properties of interest within a block on either side of Second Street.

On the neighborhood’s east side at the northeast corner of Poplar and Second Streets stand six gable-front homes, three facing each street. Constructed in 1890 and 1891, these homes are examples of early forms of pre-fabricated housing. George Trow ordered the houses from Chicago, and their components were shipped to Madison, where they were assembled.

Three much older residences sit at the remaining three corners of Poplar and Second. These are some of the oldest homes in Madison. The Schofield House is at the southeast corner of the intersection. At least part of the house was in place by January 13, 1818, when the Grand Lodge of Free Masons of Indiana formed here. Early in its history, the building served as a tavern and hotel.

Across Poplar Street is the Talbott-Hyatt House and Garden. The house was constructed about the same time as the Schofield House and, like it, evolved over time into the building it is today. The adjoining garden is open to the public. Across Second Street from the Talbott-Hyatt House is the Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House, which is described in the Civil War section of the itinerary. Just off Second Street, at 202 Broadway, is the 1848 Madison United Presbyterian Church, also known as First Presbyterian Church. Constructed in the Greek Revival style, the church had builders who could not resist topping it with a steeple that is more expressive of their New England heritage than of anything Greek. This treatment was not uncommon for early churches built in this style.

One block away, at the northeast corner of Second and Elm Streets, is the 1838 Colby House, though no Colby ever resided there. Mr. Colby left Madison and his partially built house without paying the builders. James F.D. Lanier, a banker who lived nearby, paid Colby’s bills, took possession of the home, and saw to its completion. It became the residence of Lanier's daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, William McKee Dunn, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1859-1863. The Greek Revival style residence has a Palladian window in the gable above its full-height porch.

The south side of the next block is now a part of the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, but iron foundries once stood there. At 510 West Second Street is the Eckert House, that local tinsmith John Eckert constructed in 1871. The entire façade of this shotgun house with Italianate details is made of metal. At 612 West Second is the home of Dr. Joseph and Martha Barnard, parents of famous sculptor George Grey Barnard. Dr. Barnard was a minister at Second Presbyterian Church. Another famous artist is also connected to this street. Singer and actress Irene Dunne, a five-time Academy Award nominee, grew up at 916 West Second Street.

Most of the homes on West Second Street 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:
In the West Second Street area, many of the buildings are private residences and are not open to the public, but most are easily visible from the street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. For more information, please see the Visit Madison website or call 812-265-2965.

The Schofield House is located at 217 W. Second St. It is open for tours from April 1st to October 31st from 10:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday and 1:00pm to 4:30pm on Sunday. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $5.00 for couples. Children are not charged admission.

Madison Presbyterian Church, an active church, is located at 202 Broadway St. The church office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 1:30pm. Sunday church service is held at 10:00am. For more information, visit the Madison Presbyterian Church website or call 812-265-2952.

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West Third Street

The West Third Street area is a residential neighborhood with many examples of fine, early architecture gracing the tree-lined streets. This neighborhood is about five blocks in length, extending from West Street westward to Mill Street. It includes properties on side streets that are within a block of Third Street. This charming neighborhood, like most of Madison, is best explored on foot.

At 120 West Third Street is Dr. William D. Hutchings’ Office, a modest and successful expression of the Greek Revival style. The heavy trim that outlines the pediment gable conveys the style. Constructed about 1845, this building served first as a law office before becoming the office and hospital of Dr. Hutchings from 1882 to 1903. When the doctor died in 1903, his office closed, and little happened to the building between that time and 1969, when the property was donated to Historic Madison, Inc. Today, Dr. Hutchings’ Office is a museum that illustrates the 19th century practice of medicine.

The imposing, gable-front, brick building at 210 West Third Street was constructed about 1844 as Roberts Methodist Episcopal Chapel. The building nearby at the southeast corner of Third and Broadway Streets has an interesting story to tell. Seemingly residential in form, it is known as St. Anne’s Academy and is one of the oldest frame buildings remaining in Madison, with part of the building perhaps dating back as far as the 1830s or earlier. It may be the site of Madison’s first Catholic mass, which took place in 1827. What is known is that it operated as a school for the majority of the 19th century, first as the Madison Academy and later as Saint Anne’s Academy, run by the Sisters of Providence. The current owners intend to restore the building, which has several additions and alterations.

South of Third Street on Broadway Street stand the Broadway Fountain, Trinity United Methodist Church, and the Eggleston House. The Eggleston House sits at the southwest corner of Broadway and Third Streets. Best known for his work The Hoosier Schoolmaster, author Edward Eggleston lived at this house between 1891 and 1902. The house dates back much further, perhaps to the 1830s, when town founder John Paul had it built for his daughter Sarah Stevenson. A section of brick row houses sits on the west side of Broadway Street, north of Third Street.

The next two blocks contain four properties that are described in greater detail individually in the itinerary. Reflecting Twentieth Century Madison is the Federal Housing Administration Model Home (311 West Third). The Jesse Bright House (312 West Third) was important during the Civil War period, and the Francis Costigan House (408 West Third) and First Baptist Church (416 Vine Street) for their Architecture.

Across from the First Baptist Church at 415-417 Vine Street is the Costigan Double House, which dates from about 1840 and contains two residences. Local architect Francis Costigan designed the house and lived in the south part before constructing his home on Third Street. The doorways, with their sidelights, square columns, and simple entablatures--also seen at the cornice, express Greek Revival style. The façade’s brickwork is laid in a Flemish bond, which gives the façade a more ornamented appearance and greater structural strength. Addressed in the Civic Madison essay, John Paul Park is a municipal green space developed in 1902 and dedicated to Madison’s founder. The park borders the district and offers a shady place for visitors to rest.

Most of the homes on West Third Street 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:
In the West Third Street area, many of the buildings are private residences and are not open to the public, but most are easily visible from the street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. For more information, please see the Visit Madison website or call 812-265-2965.

Dr. Hutchings’ Office and Hospital and the Francis Costigan House are owned by Historic Madison, Inc., and are open for tours from mid-April through October. Admission is charged. For more information about visiting these sites, visit the Historic Madison, Inc., website or call 812-265-2967. John Paul Park is owned and maintained by the City of Madison and is open to the public.

The Dr. William Davies Hutchings Office has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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Broadway Fountain

One of Madison’s landmarks, the Broadway Fountain has proudly occupied the middle of Broadway for over 125 years. The original Janes, Kirtland, and Company cast iron fountain was displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. After the Exposition closed, the Madison Lodge of Independent Order of Odd Fellows purchased the fountain and presented it to the city in 1884.

French sculptor J.P.Victor Andre modeled the fountain’s design (Model #5 in the Janes, Kirtland catalog) after either one of the Place-de-la-Concord fountains in Paris or one at London’s Crystal Palace. It consists of three decorated tiered basins approximately 26 feet high and 35 feet across. Cartouches featuring the Odd Fellows symbol of three interconnected links adorn each side of the fountain’s octagonal base. Four tritons surround the base, with each creature holding a shell horn that spouts water. A classically robed female figure holding a rod sits atop the highest basin.

As part of the 1976 American bicentennial celebrations held across the country, the City of Madison spearheaded a major restoration effort, hiring Cincinnati sculpture Eleftherios Karkadoulias to recast the entire fountain in bronze. The process took nearly three years as Karkadoulias disassembled the fountain and shipped each piece to his Cincinnati studio. There he created wax molds and recast the fountain in bronze, a longer-lasting and sturdier metal. The reproduction fountain was dedicated in 1980.

The Broadway Fountain is one of four similarly designed fountains that Janes, Kirtland, and Company created. The others can be found in Savannah, Georgia (seen in the movies Forrest Gump and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil); Poughkeepsie, New York; and Cusco, Peru.

The Broadway Fountain Park 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 Broadway Fountain Park, a one-half acre green space in Madison’s downtown, occupies the center of Broadway Street between West Main St. and West Third St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Broadway Fountain Park is lighted during the evenings and offers ample sitting areas. On Saturdays throughout the summer, Broadway Fountain Park hosts the Madison Farmer’s Market. For more information, please visit the Madison Parks & Recreations website.

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Fair Play Fire Company No. 1 Fire House

The Union Volunteer Fire Company organized in 1830 to help protect Madison’s citizens from fire, a very serious threat to 19th century communities. Several years later, the City of Madison voted to fund a paid municipal fire department, but within ten months the service was cancelled and the responsibility again rested on volunteer forces. In 1841, about 100 men, who originally were members of the Union Volunteer Fire Company, organized the Fair Play Fire Company No. 1, which is now the oldest volunteer company in Indiana.

Built c.1875 as a horse-drawn streetcar barn for the Madison Street Railways Company, the Fair Play Fire Company No. 1 Firehouse building’s wide entrance and open floor plan made it ideal for use as a firehouse. In 1888, the Fair Play Company purchased the streetcar barn and moved its operations to its current location on the northeast corner of Main and Walnut Streets. During a renovation that began shortly after the purchase of the building, the company added the firehouse’s impressive three and one-half story brick tower that still stands over downtown Madison. The tower’s wood supports, used to hang fire hoses to dry, are still visible, and decorative brick detailing surrounds its inset windows.

Perched atop the tower is the Fair Play Fire Company’s mascot, “Little Jimmy.” Fair Play Company member Peter Hoffman created the tin figure of a boy blowing a bugle during the 1880s. The weathervane immediately became a symbol of the Fair Play Company and a notable Madison landmark. After years of service, the original Little Jimmy was retired in 1997, and is now displayed inside the firehouse. He was replaced with an identical copper version crafted by New Hampshire artist Don Felix.

The Fair Play Fire Company No. 1 Firehouse 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 Fair Play Fire Company No. 1 Firehouse is located at 403-405 E. Main St. and is an active firehouse. While the Firehouse is not open to the public it is easily viewed from the street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

The Fair Play Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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Jefferson County Courthouse and Sheriff's Residence & Jail

The Jefferson County Courthouse that stands at 300 East Main Street is the third building to serve as Jefferson County's courthouse. It was built between 1854 and 1855 after a fire consumed the second Jefferson County Courthouse. Regionally notable architect David Dubach designed the new building in the Classical Revival style. The west side is dominated by a portico supported by four fluted, cast iron Ionic columns that sit atop an ashlar masonry arcade. Neighboring Switzerland County used Dubach’s plans to construct an almost identical courthouse a decade later.

During a restoration in 2009, the courthouse’s roof caught fire, destroying the upper story and domed cupola. This setback only increased Madisonians’ resolve to restore the courthouse. Jefferson County commissioners funded reconstruction of the building’s damaged sections and cupola. Second-story windows, more harmonious to the historic design than previous replacements, were installed. Wood molding and plaster on the third floor’s ceiling was restored. A rededication ceremony for the rehabilitated courthouse took place August 26, 2011.

The building just east of the courthouse is the Sheriff’s Residence and Jail. Like the courthouse, it was not the first building in Madison to serve as the jail. Substantial additions have occurred on the building’s east and south sides, but the original 1849 building is still apparent. Historically, the sheriff and his family resided in the front portion of this building, while the jail occupied the lower, rear section. The walls of the jail are at least two feet thick and are built of massive stones.

The Jefferson County Courthouse and the Sheriff’s Residence and Jail 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; the Sheriff’s Residence and Jail is also individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Plan your Visit:
The Jefferson County Courthouse is located at 300 East Main St. with the Sheriff's Residence and Jail next door. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The courthouse is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 8:00am until 4:00pm. The Sheriff’s Residence and Jail are closed to the public, though tours may be arranged by contacting the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at 812-265-8900.

The Sheriff’s Residence and Jail have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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John Paul Park

Situated just north of Madison’s commercial downtown, John Paul Park originally was Madison’s first planned city cemetery. Known initially as the Third Street Cemetery and later as Old City Cemetery, the land was donated by town founder John Paul in 1819, and used as a burial ground for 20 years. In 1839, it was abandoned in favor of Springdale Cemetery, which lies just to the north, beyond Crooked Creek.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the City of Madison decided to reclaim the cemetery, which was suffering from more than 50 years of neglect. Starting in 1902, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution worked with the city to develop the former cemetery as a park. Gravestones from the Third Street Cemetery were moved to Springdale Cemetery, but unmarked burials remain in the park grounds. The park was designed in the Picturesque style popularized by the 19th-century urban public parks movement. Winding paths led visitors from Third Street to a stone fountain at the center of the park. From the fountain, guests could gaze out on the bluffs that border Madison to the north. Thirteen trees, each representing an American Colony, were planted around the fountain.

In 1905, the city decided to straighten Crooked Creek, adding additional space to the park’s north side. The city added a ball park, and the natural sloping landscape leading to Crooked Creek became the perfect place for spectators to sit and take in a game. While little remains of the park’s designed, early 20th century landscape today, it is still a pleasant place for a stroll, with ample trees providing shade and picnic areas.

John Paul Park 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:
John Paul Park is located north of West Third St. between Vine and Mill Sts. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The park is maintained by the City of Madison and is open to the public. For more information, visit the City of Madison website or call 812-265-8300.

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Old Madison City Hall

The building at 416 West Street that is the Old Madison City Hall was originally imagined as the first school for Madison’s African Americans but never used for that purpose. During the 1879 construction of the Italianate building, locals complained that the school’s location near downtown Madison’s main commercial strip would be detrimental to learning. School trustees purchased a lot in the quieter neighborhood of Broadway between Fourth and Fifth Streets and erected another school. Broadway School, which was identical to the rejected West Street building, opened in 1880 as the first commissioned high school for African Americans in Indiana.

Seizing the opportunity to use the new, vacant building as a City Hall, Madison city officials relocated from the southeast corner of Mulberry and Second Streets to 416 West Street. A 1925 renovation added a Neoclassical façade to the building. While side windows still sported the narrow, four-over-four panes, decorative metal hoods, and stone sills characteristic of the Italianate style, the new main façade added tripartite windows with flared stone lintels with keystones. The Italianate hipped roof and the wide pierced-metal cornice with decorative brackets survived the Neoclassical changes. A flat-roof stone entry with an arched opening, recessed wood doors, transom light, and classic details make up the center of the façade.

In 1993, the City of Madison decided to move municipal offices to the c.1925 Classical Revival bank building located on the corner of Main and West Streets and sold the old building. Since then the Old City Hall has housed small businesses and offices. A devastating fire ripped through the Old City Hall and neighboring buildings in August 2006, but fortunately the building has been restored to its historic appearance and is once again used as commercial space.

The Old City Hall 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 Old City Hall, now a privately owned building, is located at 416 West St. The operating hours for the small businesses located within the building vary. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

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Springdale Cemetery

On Madison’s northwest side, West Fifth Street terminates at Springdale Cemetery, the city’s earliest still-active cemetery. Madison residents used the Old Third Street Cemetery located on the corner of Third and Vine Streets until abandoning the site in 1839 for the newly organized Springdale Cemetery. Francis “Fanny” Sullivan, the 15 -year old daughter of prominent Madisonian Judge Jeremiah Sullivan, was the first burial in the new municipal cemetery. When the Daughters of the American Revolution converted the Old Third Street Cemetery into John Paul Park in 1904, the remaining gravestones were relocated to Springdale and are now clustered together in the cemetery’s Old Public Grounds section. Springdale Cemetery is also the resting place of numerous Civil War veterans, members of Madison’s early 20th century Jewish community, and African Americans who lived in the Georgetown neighborhood.

Springdale Cemetery’s planned landscape reflects the basic tenets of the Rural Cemetery model popularized by Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery. Springdale includes terraced, European-style family plots leading up Hanging Rock Hill and several stone-lined drainage ditches dating to the mid-1800s. Designed by Frederick Wallick, the 1916 Gothic Revival Chapel is dressed stone with imitation quoins, corner buttresses, stained glass windows, and crockets along the front gable.

One notable monument is the large, white, Italian marble statue depicting a female figure with arms stretched upward that George Grey Barnard sculpted. The artist’s parents moved to Madison in 1882 when his father, Dr. Joseph Barnard, accepted the position of minister at the Madison Second Presbyterian Church. After his parents died, the sculptor placed the statue he titled “Let There Be Light” beside their graves as a memorial. An active artist from the 1880s until his death in 1938, Barnard earned fame for his realistic depictions of the human form and for designing the architectural nucleus of The Cloisters Medieval Art Museum in New York City.

Springdale Cemetery 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:
Springdale Cemetery is located at 600 E. Fifth Street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The cemetery is managed by the Springdale Cemetery Association and is open to the public from dawn until dusk. For more information, call 812-265-3915.

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Washington Fire Company No. 2

The Washington Fire Company No.2, located on West Third Street just blocks away from some of Madison’s finest 19th-century houses, is the oldest active fire station in Indiana. It is the first and only home of the Washington Fire Company, the second volunteer fire company formed during the 1840s after Madison’s paid municipal fire company folded after only ten months of service.

Completed in 1850,and designed by Mathew Temperly and William or Isaac Dutton, the simple building is one of the last remaining Greek Revival firehouses in the United States still in use. The two-story brick building’s most defining exterior features include a triangular pediment and a short, wood-frame bell tower. The long, narrow building plan allowed adequate room on the ground floor to store cumbersome fire equipment and comfortably stable the horses that pulled 19th-century fire pumps and engines. The upper story is designed as a common area for the company’s meetings and social events and is more comfortably furnished than the utilitarian lower story. The second floor still features its original painted screen wall, which reads “Organized January 20, 1846, Washington Fire Company No. 2, Incorporated January 13, 1849.” The wall is lavishly decorated with a red and gilt frieze and a Tuscan architrave based on a plate in one of Minard Lafever’s pattern books.

Twentieth-century advancements in firefighting technology, such as larger gas-engine fire trucks, necessitated a few changes in the firehouse’s façade, most notably to the equipment bay door, but overall the brick building looks remarkably similar to when it first opened more than 150 years ago. The Washington Fire Company No. 2 pays homage to its past by having its motorized fire vehicle sport the original nickel-plated number “2” and fire bell that served on the first steam apparatus.

The Washington Fire Company No. 2 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 Washington Fire Company No. 2, located at 104 W. Third St., is an active firehouse. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Fire House is not open to the public but is easily viewed from the street.

The Washington Fire Company No. 2 has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory

Saddletrees, the carved, wood frames which are the foundation of riding saddles, were a major product of Madison’s economy in the later part of the 19th century. Considered the saddletree capital of the Midwest, Madison had 12 saddletree companies that made more than 150,000 trees annually during the industry’s peak in the late 1870s. Prussian immigrant John Benedict “Ben” Schroeder opened the Schroeder Saddletree Factory in 1878. Schroeder converted the modest brick building originally used as the factory in 1882 and moved saddletree operations into two wood-frame buildings constructed directly north and west of his home. The T-plan, brick residence sports a porch along the rear wing, decorative fascia around the front and side gable ends, and additions made after the separate woodshop and assembly rooms were built.

When Ben Schroeder died in 1909, the company passed to his widow and children. Four of the six Schroeder siblings, Leo, Joseph, Charles, and Gertrude, decided to stay in Madison and continue their father’s business. During the company’s 94 years, the Schroeder factory produced between 300,000 and 500,000 saddletrees, almost two million wood clothespins, and countless stirrups, hames (the framework for horse collars), and work gloves.

After Joseph Schroeder, Ben’s last surviving son, passed away in 1972, the factory and house passed to Historic Madison, Inc. (HMI). The factory remained unchanged since the 1940s, with all of the machinery left in place, saddletree patterns hanging from the walls and ceiling, packages of printed clothespin boxes upstairs, and a layer of sawdust and wood scraps strewn over the woodshop’s floor. The level of preservation caught industrial historians’ attention. It took HMI several years to catalogue the factory’s artifacts and decipher how the one-of-a-kind machines (modified by the Schroeders to specifically make clothespins and saddletrees) worked. The Ben Schroeder Factory is the only place in the United States that interprets the saddletree-making process.

The Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory 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 Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory, a property owned by the Historic Madison, Inc., is located at 106 Milton St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The property is open to the public for regularly scheduled tours from mid-April-October. Admission is charged. For more information, the Historic Madison, Inc. website or call HMI at 812-265-2967.

The Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory has been documented in the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record.

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Eagle Cotton Mill

Built in 1884, the Eagle Cotton Mill is the best remaining historic example of Madison’s working, industrial waterfront. The long, narrow main building is four stories tall and measures 75 feet by 300 feet, taking up a whole city block. One hundred, eight-foot tall windows (25 on each story) set in brick arches follow the course of the building’s longer sides, allowing workers to make the most of natural light. Each interior floor is designed as a single open space with an enclosed corner stairwell. The expansive open floor plan allowed mill owners to fit massive machinery used during the cotton milling process. Two small wings create the building’s “F” shape with the central arm sloping down to create a shipping warehouse and the end wing housing the mill’s power station.

When the Eagle Cotton Mill Company of Madison organized in 1880, its trustees hired local architecture firm Rankin and White to create a building suitable for milling operations. Robert H. Rankin and James White made names for themselves by building most of Madison’s late 19th-century wool and cotton mills that crowded the busy riverfront. By 1900, the Eagle Cotton Mill Company was in serious debt. Noted Madison industrialist Richard Johnson, Sr. purchased the mill and turned it into a profitable business in less than five years. Under Johnson’s management, the Eagle Mill employed over 400 workers who produced low-grade cotton yardage, tobacco canvas, and twine. The company sold its milling equipment in 1932, shifting its focus to making shoes and later canvas baskets. Meese Incorporated, a Madison company that made canvas containers before moving to plastics, occupied the building from 1938 until the 1980s.

The Eagle Cotton Mill 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 Eagle Cotton Mill is located at 108 St. Michael’s Ave. It is privately owned and is currently not open to the public. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

The Eagle Cotton Mill has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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Greiner Brewery

When Cincinnati brewer Mathew Greiner decided to move his operation to Madison in 1854, the town already had a storied brewing history. As early as 1823, Jacob Salmon was brewing and selling beer on the eastern edge of Madison. Greiner decided to build his new brewing complex near the Salmon site. He constructed the massive, three-story main building in the Greek Revival style, complete with a recessed entry beneath an elaborate surround, an entablature featuring dentils, and third-story windows similar to frieze-band windows. The façade’s many windows have slightly pedimented stone lintels, also representative of Greek Revival style. The most noticeable architectural feature is the brewery’s four-story, hipped-roof tower. A one-story brick cottage to the main building’s east was used as worker housing and probably predates the 1856 brewery.

The surviving buildings were once part of a much larger complex that included a fermentation room, cold storage beer cellar, and bottling works. Additions were made during the 1880s, and the business became known as the Madison Brewery after 1885. Greiner and his sons made names for themselves with the Famous Madison XXX Ale, marketed as the perfect refreshment “after a tiresome journey or shopping tour” and distributed throughout the Midwest and as far south as New Orleans.

Prohibition sent the Madison Brewery into bankruptcy, leaving the company to dissolve and transfer the building to a local bank in 1918. During the next six decades the building housed a grocery, a farm and dairy supply store, and Madison Machine Products, before Mayflower Transfer and Storage Company moved in during the 1970s. It is currently being converted into an artist’s studio and gallery. The historic “Greiner’s Brewery, Cash For Barley” sign that graced the front of the building during the 1870s has been repainted on the side facing Park Avenue.

The Greiner Brewery building 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 Greiner Brewery is located at 928 Park Ave. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Greiner Brewery building is privately owned and now home to artist Geoffrey Crowe’s studio and gallery. The studio is open for tours. Contact Geoffrey Crowe at 812-241-9797 or gacrowe@yahoo.com for more information.

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HMI Warehouses

The two long, narrow buildings on Elm Street served as 19th-century industrial spaces, but incorporate charming Italianate details not usually used for utilitarian construction. Pressed metal brackets support the gables' overhanging eaves, while doors and windows have segmental arch brick crowns. The facades’ central double wood panel doors and upper story paired windows have carved decorative wood inserts between the elements and their brick crowns. 116 Elm Street’s skylights help illuminate the interior and the building still has portions of its original slate roof.

Built between 1887 and 1892, 116 and 120 Elm were originally used as a carriage houses and stables for Alexander Lanier, son of prominent banker James Lanier, and Madison attorney John Robert Cravens. While both buildings started as places for horses and wagons, they took on more industrial uses during the mid-20th century. 116 Elm Street, the building with a simple front porch over the main entrance, was the home of the Trow’s Flour Mill cooperage during the early 20th century. More recently, 116 Elm Street has been a tobacco prizing house for the Hughes Tobacco Company. The industrial presses once used to pack and bail dried tobacco leaves and ceiling tracks that helped move the massive bales through the long building are still in place. 120 Elm continued to be used as a stable after the R. McKim Coal Company purchased the building for its coal-cart horses. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was converted into a warehouse for C & R Auto Parts.

Historic Madison, Inc. now uses both of the properties as storage facilities. The Tobacco Prizing House, acquired by HMI in 1970, holds architectural salvage materials gathered from local historic buildings. Madison property owners looking for historic architectural details for their renovation and restoration efforts can search through HMI’s inventory of wood frame windows, iron fencing, mantels, and hardware. The Carriage House, purchased in 1990, holds part of the Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory Collection and includes numerous items from the Schroeder residence and factory.

The two warehouse buildings 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:
The HMI Warehouses at 116 and 120 Elm St. are owned by Historic Madison, Inc. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The warehouses are not open to the public but are easily viewed from the street. For more information about Historic Madison, Inc.'s architectural salvage efforts, visit the Historic Madison, Inc. website or call 812-265-2967.

The Carriage House and Stables, 120 Elm St., has been documented in the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record.

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Trolley Barn

During its 137 years on West Main Street, the building commonly known as the Trolley Barn never actually served as storage for trolley cars. Constructed in 1875, the long, narrow brick building initially was one of Madison’s market houses, which were open buildings designed as places for merchants and farmer to sell their products. The first Madison market house appeared at the corner of Jefferson and Main Streets in 1818. The Trolley Barn was the last such building erected in town.

The Madison Power and Electric Company moved into the building’s rear section in 1886. Coincidentally, the market house’s open interior plan made an ideal fit for generators and other power equipment. The Madison Power and Electric Company eventually occupied the entire building. Later, the Madison Light and Railway and Madison Light and Power used the building in the same capacity.

Recently, the Trolley Barn has housed small shops and restaurants and, in 2011, became home to the first contemporary brewery in Madison.

The Trolley Barn 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 Trolley Barn, a privately owned building, is located at 719 W. Main St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The operating hours for the Trolley Barn's small businesses and restaurants vary. For more information, call Scott Stoner at 812-274-2794 or visit the Madison Historic District Shops website.

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African Methodist Episcopal Church

Built in 1850, the African Methodist Episcopal Church on East Fifth Street acted as a community gathering place in the heart of the African-American neighborhood called Georgetown. William Anderson, a freedom seeker who settled in Madison in 1836, and other active members of the Underground Railroad living in Georgetown originally attended services at a Methodist Church on Main Street. Once the congregation asked African American members to sit in the gallery instead of with the white parishioners, however, the church’s black members started their own Methodist Episcopal church on Walnut Street around 1840. A few years later, disturbed by the race-related violence occurring in Madison, church leaders asked members to stop participating in Underground Railroad activity. This led Anderson to start the African Methodist Episcopal Church on East Fifth Street.

The new congregation included noted Underground Railroad participants George DeBaptiste, Elijah Anderson, Griffin Booth, Joseph O’Neal, and David Lott. The building is a modest, one story, Greek Revival design with elongated windows along the side walls and two double doors with transoms and flat stone lintels on the facade. Its front gable meets with a thick brick course that follows the roofline, creating the illusion of a front pediment. A stone marker within the façade’s brick course reads “AME Church, Founded 1850.”

The AME Church housed more than just religious services. Before the Civil War, African Americans were not allowed to attend public schools in Madison. Thus, the church offered classes in its basement. The AME Church continued to be active until dwindling numbers forced the congregation to sell the building to Pilgrim Holiness Church, which used it from 1926-1943.

Historic Madison, Inc. purchased the building and returned the church to its historic appearance. The space now hosts African-American history programs and interprets the importance of Madison’s Georgetown neighborhood. The church 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 African Methodist Episcopal Church is located at 309 E. Fifth St. in the Georgetown Neighborhood, which is part of the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Click here for the Network to Freedom page. Click here for the National Historic Landmark nomination file: text. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is owned by Historic Madison, Inc., and is open for special events and by appointment. For more information, visit the Historic Madison, Inc., website or contact HMI at 812-265-2967.

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Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building

Perched atop “College Hill” in rural Lancaster, Indiana, Eleutherian College was created as one of the first desegregated educational institutions in America. In 1848, Oxford, Ohio, minister Reverend Thomas Cravens started the Eleutherian Institute in Lancaster after being impressed with local abolitionists’ enthusiasm during an 1846 visit. The name “Eleutherian” stems from the Greek word “Eleutheros” which means “freedom and equality."

The classes initially met in local meeting halls before construction of the limestone building on College Hill. After moving into its permanent home, the Institute changed its name to Eleutherian College and became the first Indiana school to offer post-secondary instruction to African Americans. Soon Eleutherian College built men’s and women’s dormitories, and annual enrollment reached between 70 and 150 students from 1855 to 1861. During the 1860s and 1870s, when public schools for free blacks became more common, Eleutherian College’s enrollment dipped.

Constructed between 1854 and 1856, the surviving Greek Revival-style college building is a three-story stone building designed on a rectangular plan, with a square bell tower above the entrance. Its gable-front roof creates a triangular wood pediment above the school’s third floor windows. Finished limestone windowsills, lintels, and corner quoins offer a contrast to the building’s rough-hewn coursed stone walls. The north-facing façade features three bays with two wood doors with transoms around a central window.

The building’s interior reflects its original function as a school and chapel. A small entryway situated inside the exterior doors leads to a two-story high chapel with double-height windows running the remainder of the building’s length. Two classrooms are located above the entryway on the second story, but the bulk of instruction space, five more rooms, is on the third floor.

Lancaster Township purchased the building in 1888 and used it as a public school until 1938. Restoration projects in the 1960s and during the 2000s have returned the building to its historic appearance.

Historic Eleutherian College, Inc now owns the Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on February 18, 1997.

Plan your Visit:
Eleutherian College, a National Historic Landmark and part of the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom is located at 6927 W. State Rd. 250, Lancaster, IN, 10 miles northwest of downtown Madison. Click here for the National Historic Landmark file: text and photos. To reach Eleutherian College, take IN-7 north to SR 250. Head east on SR 250 2.5 miles. The college is situated off the road in the middle of a field. It is open to the public by appointment only. To set up a tour, call 812-866-7291.

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Georgetown Neighborhood

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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Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House

In the 1830s, native Vermonter Lyman Hoyt and his wife Asenath Whipple Hoyt moved to Lancaster, Indiana, a settlement 10 miles north of Madison. Organized in 1815, Lancaster had a strong connection to the anti-slavery movement. Hoyt and other Lancaster residents created the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 with the goal of mobilizing the community’s abolitionist efforts. The society took on a religious bent when it formed the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Baptist Church in 1846, writing a disavowal of slavery into its bylaws. When Rev. Thomas Cravens of Oxford, Ohio expressed interest in organizing a school that allowed all to attend, regardless of color or gender, the Anti-Slavery Society helped build Eleutherian College, the first desegregated higher education institution in Indiana.

Many members of Neil’s Creek Church were active in the Underground Railroad, with the Hoyt family being no exception. Late 19th-century accounts confirm that Lyman Hoyt helped transport enslaved African Americans to stops along the Underground Railroad and hid freedom seekers on his property when fugitive slave catchers traveled through Lancaster. After Lyman’s death in 1857, the Hoyt family members stopped their direct association with the Underground Railroad, but Lyman Hoyt's widow and seven children continued supporting civil rights causes into the 20th century.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House dates from sometime during the 1850s, around the same time Eleutherian College was being constructed about half a mile to the east. The two buildings have remarkable similarities, both showcasing sturdy, rough-hewn limestone construction and decorative corner quoins. Since the house and Eleutherian College are the only two Greek Revival buildings in Lancaster, it is likely the same local builder designed both buildings. The roofline contains decorative details like the semicircular vent in the front gable, scalloped wood trim, and small wood returns on the deep eave overhang.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

Plan your Visit:
The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House, part of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, is located at 71 47 W. State Rd. 250 in Lancaster, Indiana, about .5 mile from Eleutherian College. Click here for the Network to Freedom information. To reach the Hoyt House, take IN-7 north to SR 250. Head east on SR 250 3 miles. The building, owned by the non-profit Historic Eleutherian College, Inc., is not currently open to the public. For more information, call the Historic Eleutherian College, Inc. at 812-866-7291.

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Emilie Todd Helm House

Emilie Todd Helm, the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln (wife of President Abraham Lincoln), resided with her children at 610 West Main Street. Though she lived in Kentucky for most of her life, Emilie Todd Helm found a peaceful home in Madison in the decade following the Civil War. Just as the war divided many families, it did so to the Todd family in a particularly dramatic way.

Emilie Todd Helm was married to Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm, and three of her brothers fought for the South, despite their half-sister’s marriage to the President of the United States. Following her husband’s death at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, Emilie Todd Helm relocated to Madison, where she raised her three children and played the organ at Christ Episcopal Church.


Built c.1850 and attributed to architect Francis Costigan, the house shared its east wall with the Union Brewery between 1862 and 1901. Peter Weber owned both of the buildings. In 1939, the grand Italianate-style brewery, which had replaced an earlier building in 1876, burnt, but the fire spared the nearby house. The remains of the brewery were soon replaced by a much more modest commercial building, which adjoins the Emilie Todd Helm House today.

The Emilie Todd Helm House 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 Emilie Todd Helm House is located at 610 W. Main St. It is a private residence and is not open to the public. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

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Jesse Bright House

Jesse Bright, Indiana’s most outspokenly pro-slavery United States Senator during the Civil War, lived in this 1837 Federal style home from 1840 to 1857. Bright grew up in Madison, became an attorney, and was elected County Probate Judge. Within a short time he was appointed the U.S. Marshall for Indiana, a position that allowed Bright to travel the State and build his political career. He served as a State Senator and as Lieutenant Governor during the early 1840s before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1844.

Even though he was the senior U.S. Senator (Democrat) after the South seceded from the Union and served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the 1850s, Bright was accused of disloyalty in 1862. When Federal forces captured Texas arms dealer Thomas Lincoln trying to cross into Confederate territory, they confiscated a letter from Jesse Bright addressed to “His Excellency Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederation of States.” In the letter Bright recommended Lincoln to Davis as “a gentleman of first respectability,” who was in possession of “great improvement in fire-arms.” Bright argued he was merely using the appropriate title for Davis and that he wrote the letter before the attack on Fort Sumter. The majority of the Senate did not believe Bright’s excuses and voted 52-14 to remove him from the Senate.

Bright returned to Indiana and unsuccessfully campaigned to fill the Senate seat from which he had been removed. He then relocated to Kentucky where he owned property and served in the state assembly from 1867 to 1871.

The two story brick house has a low pitch, side-gable roof with a wide cornice. Windows feature flat, bracketed hoods, and dressed stone lintels and sills. The Italianate details were added during the 1880s after Bright sold the property.

The Jesse Bright House 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 Jesse Bright House, a privately owned building, is located at 312 W. Third St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. While the Jesse Bright House is not open to the public, it is easily viewed from the street.

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Judge Jeremiah Sullivan House

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.

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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Madison Railroad Incline Cut

The Madison, Indianapolis & Lafayette Railroad dates back to 1836, when Indiana legislators included it as part of the Internal Improvement Act. It was the State’s first railroad, running 20 miles between Madison and North Vernon. Eventually the line would extend to Indianapolis. The part of the tracks known as “the incline” or “the cut” begins north of the intersection of West Main and McIntire Streets, where a historic marker has been erected to commemorate the incline, and ends at about where State Road 7 meets Terrace Drive on the hilltop. It covers a distance of 7,012 feet rising 412 feet in elevation to achieve a grade of 5.89 per cent, the steepest incline of any standard gage, line-haul railroad track in the country.

Mostly Irish laborers built the incline over the course of five years. Under a thin layer of topsoil, workers had to contend with 40 to 125 feet of limestone, which were first blasted with powder and then excavated by laborers. Irish immigrant William Griffin, who came to Madison in 1837, supervised construction. The first trip up the incline occurred November 3, 1841. The train’s passengers included former governor Noah Noble, who had been at the State’s head when the Internal Improvement Act was signed in 1836.

For several years, horses pulled train cars up the incline, as there was no engine powerful enough for that task. About 1848, a cog wheel system was implemented, allowing specially fitted engines to climb the hill, though laboriously. This mode of ascension was abandoned in 1868, when the engine Reuben Wells was created. Named for its maker, this 56-ton engine was heavy enough to cling to the tracks without the assistance of cogs. All three of these mechanisms would stop at the top of the hill, where cars would be transferred to a standard train engine. The Reuben Wells is currently on display at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

While the incline cut helped connect towns along the railroad line to Madison and the city’s Ohio River traffic, it also offered a new, unexpected opportunity for recreation. During the 19th century, Madison residents looking for a thrill would take leisurely walks along the tracks and hike through the cut during periods of low rail traffic. Nineteenth-century photographs show groups of Madisonians dressed in their Sunday best traipsing between the incline cut’s steep rock faces.

Plan your Visit:
The Madison Railroad Incline Cut is located north of Madison. The part of the tracks known as “the incline” or “the cut” begins north of the intersection of West Main and McIntire Sts, where a historic marker has been erected to commemorate the incline, and ends at about where State Rd. 7 meets Terrace Dr. on the hilltop. The Madison Heritage Trail follows the historic Madison and Indianapolis Railroad tracks partially up the hillside and includes a view of a stone arch culvert under the lower section of the incline. For more information, visit the Heritage Trail Facebook page.

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Madison Railroad Station

Constructed for the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad Company in 1894, the Madison Railroad Station is the third to serve the community. Unlike early railroad properties that valued functionality over style, the Madison station used an octagonal plan rarely employed for commercial and public buildings. It is the only example of this unusual building style in Madison. The two-story octagonal main section served as a passenger waiting room with the second story forming a cupola that reached above the wraparound porch’s roof. The small wing off the cupola’s west side housed the baggage area and ticket office.

Passenger service ended in 1935, but the railroad retained ownership of the building until the 1960s when it was used by a storage company and later housed the Wilco Electric Company. In 1986, the Jefferson County Historical Society purchased the property and restored the station to its historic appearance. It is now home to the historical society’s Railroad Station Museum where the space is interpreted as an early 20th-century passenger station.

The Madison Railroad Station 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 Madison Railroad Station, which is owned by the Jefferson County Historical Society, is located at 615 W. First St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Madison Railroad Station is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10:00am until 4:00pm from May 1-October 31 and weekdays 10:00am to 4:30pm from November 1 through April 30. Admission to the Jefferson County Historical Society Heritage Center, which includes the Railroad Station Museum, is $4 for non-members, free for historical society members. For more information, visit the Jefferson County Historical Society website or call 812-265-2335.

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Michigan Road

The Michigan Road was one of Indiana’s first highways. It begins in Madison at the base of the bluffs, on the north side of the town. West Street runs north from the Ohio River and ends at this point, where it meets with Milton Street, to the east, and the Michigan Road, which winds up the bluffs in a westward direction before setting a course due north to the county line. Beyond that point, this historic road goes through such towns as Shelbyville, Indianapolis, Logansport, South Bend, and Michigan City.

Prior to the road’s construction in the 1830s, the new State of Indiana’s population was confined along its rivers, like the Ohio and the Wabash; its great lake, Lake Michigan; and its eastern border, which settlers from Ohio were gradually crossing. Rivers were the easiest mode of transportation because travel through Indiana’s densely forested interior was difficult. The situation became apparent to State legislators in 1825, when the State capital was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis, a newly-created town in the State’s center without access to a navigable river. Just one year later, in 1826, legislation passed calling for the construction of a road connecting Michigan City, on Lake Michigan, and Madison. The Michigan Road opened the State’s interior to settlement and connected two major waterways, the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. The road was completed in 1837.

It took more than one year, from Summer 1830 to Fall 1831, for the first 15 miles of the road north of Madison to be made passable. Construction was contracted out to the lowest bidder in one-mile increments. The road was to be 100 feet wide, with the 30-foot center free of stumps. Madison’s economy benefited from the road’s construction, as newcomers arrived from the east via the Ohio River. Madison served as a point at which settlers could outfit themselves with the necessary supplies before heading northward on the Michigan Road to the State’s unsettled interior.

The Michigan Road 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 Landmarks. The Michigan road has also been designated an Indiana State Scenic Byway.

Plan your Visit:
To reach the Michigan Road from Madison’s downtown, travel north on West St. until the intersection with Milton Rd. Michigan Road is to the left and continues north toward the Madison hilltop commercial district. Most of the road still exists and is traversable throughout Indiana. The road is part of several State and U.S. routes, but it is still identifiable in the towns through which its passes, where it often times bears the name Michigan Street. For more information, visit The Historic Michigan Road website.

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Clifty Falls State Park

Just west of Madison is Clifty Falls State Park. The park was founded in 1920, when an increased interest in outdoor recreation led to the creation of many Federal, State, and civic parks across the nation. The land’s natural beauty, with its four waterfalls and abandoned railroad tunnel, made it an ideal location for a park.

The 600-foot long railroad tunnel within the park dates back to 1852. While visitors to the park can no longer walk through the tunnel, there are informational signs along the trail that explain the history of the tunnel. It and other railroad related remnants in the park are known as “Brough’s Folly,” after John Brough, who led the failed railroad conquest. Had this section of railroad been completed, it would have been part of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad.

Since its founding, the park has grown in size and now encompasses 1,519 acres. It features over 12 miles of trails, a campground, and a swimming pool. With many of the miles of trails in the park consisting of walking along, down, and through the creek bed and canyon, Clifty Falls State Park has one of the more rugged trail systems in Indiana.

The park is also home to Clifty Inn. The inn first opened at the site in 1924, offering park guests a convenient place to stay and rooms with spectacular river views. While in Madison to see the local Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in action during the Depression, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stayed at the inn. A new, modern motel and pool replaced the original inn in 1964. After a devastating tornado ripped through the park in 1974, Clifty Inn was replaced again. Constructed in 2006 as part of a multi-million dollar park upgrade, the present hotel contains a restaurant and conference center and offers an outstanding view of the Ohio River.

Plan your Visit:
Clifty Falls State Park is located at 2221 Clifty Dr., Madison, Indiana. The park is west of Downtown Madison off State Rte. 56 and State Rte. 62. It is open to the public from 7:00am to 11:00pm each day and offers numerous amenities including campgrounds, shelters, a nature center, tennis courts, swimming pool, and hiking trails. Daily admission for Indiana residents is $5.00 per car and for nonresidents is $7.00 per car. For general information about the park, call 812-273-8885. To make campground reservations, call 866-622-6746 or visit Camp Indiana.

Clifty Inn, located within the park, offers lodging and its restaurant is open to the public. For more information about Clifty Inn or to make reservations, call 812-265-4135 or visit Clifty Inn's website.

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Crystal Beach Pool and Bath House

During the Great Depression, the Work Progress Administration (WPA) mobilized labor and resources to construct many civic projects including parks, golf courses, and pools. Madison’s Crystal Beach Swimming Pool and Bath House are two monuments of the WPA’s work in southern Indiana. They showcase the marriage of functionality and artistry seen in many WPA projects. Constructed in 1938, the pool and bath house embody the Craftsman style popular during the 1930s and 1940s.

Vincennes, Indiana, architect Lester Routt designed the two-story, rough-cut stone bath house, which features a full front porch with a wood balcony supported by stone columns. The gable-on-hip roof includes wide eave overhangs with exposed rafters, a characteristic usually found on Craftsman designs. The ground floor includes changing rooms and a concession area around a central passageway that leads to the pool. Second-floor space has been used as a roller skating rink, dance hall, and the local Boys Club’s meeting space.

The 20,000 gallon, nine-foot deep pool’s semi-circular (kidney, clam shell, open-fan) shape hugs the bath house and gracefully fits its landscaped surroundings. A wall made of the same rough-cut ashlar used in the bath house’s construction circles the pool area. Originally the pool was bordered by sand to help create a beach atmosphere and was illuminated by underwater porthole lights used during evening swims. Both elements were removed in the 1950s due to safety concerns. Renovated in 2004, the pool retains its historic shape and surroundings and is still a popular place to swim.

The Crystal Beach Pool 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 Crystal Beach Pool is located at 400 W. Vaughn Dr. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Crystal Beach Pool is open to the public from 12:00pm until 8:00pm seven days a week from Memorial Day until the start of the school year. Daily admission is $4.00 and family season passes are available. For more information, visit the City of Madison Parks & Recreations website or call 812-265-8308.

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Federal Housing Administration Model Home

Nestled among the historic, Federal-style homes of Madison is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Model Home at 311 West Third Street. The Federal Housing Administration funded its construction in 1936 in an attempt to stimulate the building industry. Small, compact homes of this sort were built across the country as part of an effort to convince Americans to use available FHA-backed loans to build new houses during the years of the Great Depression.

Demonstrations occurred during the house’s construction, illustrating the uses of certain building materials and advertising their manufacturers. An open house following the house’s completion in 1936 gave the public an opportunity to view this modern home. It was one of two houses the Federal Housing Administration built in Indiana, outside Indianapolis.

This late addition to historic Madison was built in the Colonial Revival style, as is expressed through the rounded pediment over its entry porch and its paired windows. This choice of style, as well as the home’s small size, makes it compatible with its neighborhood. It neither pretends to be as old as its neighbors, nor is it so modern as to detract from them.

The Federal Housing Administration Model 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 Federal Housing Administration Model Home is located at 311 W. Third St. The FHA Model Home is a private residence and not open to the public, but is easily viewed from the street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text.

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Madison Regatta

A tradition of boat racing exists along the Ohio River, with Madison hosting more than 100 years of races and regattas. During the first documented regatta in 1911, powerboats raced around the steamboat Princess anchored off Madison’s shore. The Ohio Valley Motorboat Racing Association of Cincinnati organized the first major Madison regatta in 1929, an event that continued annually throughout the 1930s. The 1937 Madison Flood and World War II sidelined racing for a few years, but the local community started hosting small races in 1949. A year later the American Powerboat Association (APBA) sanctioned the event, ushering in the modern era of the Madison Regatta. The inaugural running of the Indiana Governor’s Cup in 1951 and the regatta’s addition to the APBA National Points schedule elevated the Madison event to the upper tier of the racing world.

Madison is also home to the only community-owned powerboat in the world. Miss Madison, an H1 Unlimited hydroplane, was donated to the town in 1961 and first won the regatta in 1971. This victory became the subject of the 1999 movie Madison starring Jim Caviezel. The Miss Madison team went on to win the 2001, 2010, and 2011 regattas as well. The boat currently holds the record for the most consecutive seasons of competition.

Plan your Visit:
The Madison Regatta, also called the Indiana Governor’s Cup, is held each year on Fourth of July weekend. Festivities include a parade, local concerts, an air show, fireworks, and three days of racing. General admission and VIP wristbands are available and cover the entire weekend of racing. For more information, visit the official Madison Regatta website or call 812-265-5000.

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Special Events

The RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival brings musicians, storytellers, and artists to Madison’s riverfront for a weekend celebrating folk culture. The festival, held in late May, features a Folk Art Village where craftspeople show off pottery, gourd painting, woven products, wood crafts, and basket-making. The festival also features stage performances by a variety of musicians and bands.

The Jefferson County Historical Society sponsors the Madison in Bloom Garden Tour every other spring. For two weekends in May, select private gardens within Madison’s historic district are open to the public and a plant sale allows guests to take home a flower or two of their own.

Ribberfest offers visitors two days of barbeque and blues along the Ohio River as Madison hosts the Kansas City Barbeque Society state championship cook-off each August. Riverboat rides, the 5K RibberRun, and a “Piglet Pen” kids’ play area offer something for everyone. Madison businesses join the fun by decorating pig statues and displaying them outside storefronts during Pigmania.  

Chautauquas, camp meetings that combined religious elements with educational lectures and entertaining performances, were incredibly popular during the early 20th century. Madison annually hosted a Chautauqua from 1901 to 1929, and the practice was revived in the 1970s as an art fair. The present Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art brings artisans to town the last full weekend in September.

The Tri Kappa Tour of Homes takes place in October of even-numbered years. Over the course of the selected weekend, participants get the chance to visit private homes within the historic district. The tour showcases interiors of some of the impressive Federal, Greek Revival, and Classic Revival homes within the 131-block Madison Historic District. Proceeds help fund Tri Kappa’s scholarship program.

Nights Before Christmas, held Thanksgiving weekend and the weekend after, is a self-guided candlelight tour of the historic district. Historic homes, private residences, and churches are decorated for the season and open to the public.

Plan your Visit:
Admission is required for all of the events listed above, except for the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art. Entry wristbands for RiverRoots, Ribberfest, and Nights Before Christmas can be purchased through the Visit Madison website. For more information about these events, contact the Madison Visitors Center at 800-559-2956 or info@visitmadison.org.

The Madison in Bloom Garden Tour is held during odd-numbered years and tickets can be purchased through the Jefferson County Historical Society website. Contact JCHS for more information: 812-265-2335, info@jchshc.org.

The Tri Kappa Home Tour occurs during even-numbered years. Tickets are available through the Tri Kappa-Beta Omega Chapter website.

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