NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Strolling in Madison, Indiana

North of Kentucky lies the Ohio River and the state of Indiana.   The town of Madison was an important river port lying between Cincinnati and Louisville, and makes for a nice daytrip from General Butler State Park.

The architecture of Madison reflects nearly every period of the town’s development between 1817 and 1939, including at least 400 Federal style buildings and also many Italianate and Greek Revival mansions.  Also present are vsimple shotgun houses and industrial buildings and a vibrant Main Street commercial area lined with two and three story historic buildings. It's a small town with a lot to see!

In the photo above looms the Masonic building, one of few Second Empire buildings in downtown. My eyes were drawn to its mansard roof and striking central gable right away! Can you imagine having to replace those tiles?

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.
 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.

Downtown mural

Apparently the West Street Art Center hosts something for Dia de Los Muertos every year.  That would be interesting, but all we saw was the window art.

If you're interested in visiting Madison specifically to check out the architecture, the National Park Service has a great website here.  Don't forget to look up now and then while walking around or you'll miss things like this copper weather vane nicknamed "Little Jimmy".  Fair Play Fire Company No. 1 is the oldest volunteer fire company in the state, and Little Jimmy (replica of the original) sits atop a 55 foot bell tower that was constructed in 1889.  Another place I should have stopped as it turns out the fire house also serves as a fire museum.

Another reason to visit Madison is their history of hosting more than 100 years of races and regattas.  If you want to come watch it's held on the Fourth of July weekend every year.

War Memorial

Or come for Ribberfest which features two days of barbeque and blues along the Ohio River as Madison hosts the Kansas City Barbeque Society state championship cook-off each August.  That's too many people for my tastes, but 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.

I should have darted in to the Madison Bank and Trust Company building to see what was left of its original design.  I couldn't find anything on the internet about the style of architecture which is a shame.  Even though it was built in the 1830's it looks like no other building on Main Street.  It had an almost Spanish feeling, and the clock was gorgeous though my photograph of it on a gray afternoon does not do it justice.

The sky may have been gray, but a few trees like this Gingko were still putting on a show!  Check out the The Knights of Pythias building, it is a fraternal organization and secret society founded in Washington, D.C. in 1864.   We were baffled by its castle appearance, but apparently shouldn't scoff because the K of P has notable members such as Louis Armstrong and 3 U.S. Presidents (McKinley, Harding and FDR) in its ranks.  Madison's castle doesn't make the list of notable buildings, so I'll have to keep my eye out on my travels for others.

The Classical Revival courthouse of Main Street was built between 1854 and 1855 after a fire consumed the second Jefferson County Courthouse.  The west side is dominated by a portico supported by four fluted, cast iron Ionic columns that sit atop an ashlar masonry arcade.The domed cupola was reconstructed in 2011 after the roof caught fire and you can see it gleaming from across the river and all over downtown.

We had a nice time walking almost two miles from downtown to the riverfront and back around again before we stopped for lunch and then called it a day. Lots of local shops and restaurants to explore, but we only made purchases at Galena Garlic Company where we stocked up on spices and BBQ sauce, which I've been using to make my personal size BBQ chicken pizzas. Yum!

1 comment: