Madison is one of the prettiest little towns in Georgia. Madison is billed as “the town Sherman refused to burn.” Actually Sherman didn’t come to Madison. He sent Major-General Slocum instead. History records that in November 1864 when the Union troops occupied Madison, Senator Joshua Hill pleaded with Slocum to spare the town. Thanks to political ties, the town was not torched. You can still view the wonderful collection of plantation and town homes planters built when cotton was king.
The local chamber of commerce is located on an old fashioned square. It was once the city hall and fire station. The original fireman’s pole is still down the hall near the restrooms. The courthouse was built prior to 1910. Local legend claims the clock atop the tower is the one used in the movie “Back to the Future.” This would be quite appropriate as the city is a perfect blend of old-fashioned charm and modern convenience.
A fun way to see downtown Madison is the way folks did a century and a half ago, by horse-drawn carriage. Madison Carriage Tours starts at the chamber office. It’s a great way to get the little tidbits of interest known only by a local.
Madison has one of Georgia’s largest designated historic districts with both antebellum and Victorian architecture. A great place to start your tour is The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center.
Rose Cottage and Rogers House give a glimpse into the life of middle class families of the nineteenth century. Ruben Rogers built The Rogers House in 1809. It is a classic example of the Piedmont Plain style common to the rural South. Adeline Rose, a former slave, built the Rose Cottage in 1891.
One of the best places to find the true antebellum flavor is Heritage Hall, constructed between 1833 and 1835.
There are many interesting houses in Madison. One, the Wade-Porter-Fitzpatrick-Kelly House, was built around 1852. In 1901, the owner, Mr. Fitzpatrick, turned it around to face Main Street. Another, Luhurst, just across the street from Madison-Morgan Cultural Center was the home of Lulu Hurst who preformed as a levitator and illusionist in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Don’t skip nearby Lake Oconee. With its 374 miles of shoreline, it offers a haven for fishermen, boaters and nature lovers. Hard Labor State Park is nearby.
The James Madison Inn, with a great view of Madison’s Town Park is the perfect place to stay. Each room or suite is named for one of Madison’s historic homes. This inn makes new look historic. Even the Greek columns on the front porch mirror the park’s Parthenon-like bandstand rescued from a St. Simon’s Island house that was demolished.