An interior shot when Madison Light and Power Co. occupied the Trolley Barn building.
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Madison, Indiana

Second Presbyterian Church

The Second Presbyterian Church

The Second Presbyterian Church
Courtesy of Larry Hunt


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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