Located in the historic heartland of Georgia sits the quintessential southern town of Madison. Only an hour from Atlanta and an hour and a half from Augusta, this city has built a name for its self as being one the South’s Best Towns and World’s Most Beautiful Towns. It also boasts one of the largest historic districts in Georgia.
Spared during Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” this southern belle of a city is filled with antebellum charm. The town was established in 1809 and named after the US’s 4th President, James Madison. Madison grew in fame with its reputation as “the most cultured and aristocratic town on the stagecoach route from Charleston to New Orleans,” but got its wealth from the town’s cotton-boom heyday from 1840-60.
Madison boasts nearly 100 antebellum homes along its tree-lined avenues, many of which are in beautifully restored condition.
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Heritage Hall, also known as the Jones-Turnell-Manley House, was built in 1811 and served a private residence for 166 years until 1977. It is now maintained by the Morgan County Historical Society and is one the most visited tourist attractions in Madison.
Fun Fact: Look for the window etchings. Daughters and granddaughters of Dr. Elijah Evans Jones used the windows to check the legitimacy of their diamond engagement rings.
Madison has a rich history of education. Barrow Academy is one of only two New Orleans cottage-style houses in the city. The house was constructed in 1840 to be an academy for boys, but when the Civil War broke out, it became a makeshift hospital for all of the injured soldiers that arrived into Madison via train.
Additionally, this property is home to the oldest structure in the town that initially served as a slave house.
Churches of Madison
Religion was a large part of Madison’s establishment. Each domination was provided an acre of land by the by the Inferior Court of Morgan County in 1825, and to this day the original buildings still stand.
Church of the Advent was built in 1844 by the Methodist Church and is currently home to the congregation of the Episcopal faith.
The Madison Baptist Church, organized in 1834, formerly worshiped on the site of Calvary Baptist Church on Academy Street and moved to its current location on Main Street in 1858 after the completion of the building. All the stain glass is original to the building.
Right next door to the Baptist Church is the Madison Presbyterian Church. This building was built in 1842 by skilled architect and mason, Daniel Killian, after the congregation had worshiped in homes and the courthouse for 21 years. Be sure to visit the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center to see the original communion set that was stolen during the Civil War. It is stunning, as are the original stain glass windows.