Images of Madison’s riverfront from the 1880s and today seamlessly merge to reveal the town’s historic character.
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Madison, Indiana

John Paul Park

John Paul Park

John Paul Park
National Park Service

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.

Next page
Comments or Questions

Itinerary Home | List of sites | Maps | Learn More | Credits | Other Itineraries | NR Home | Search