James Madison was the fourth President of the United States, and the person that the town of Madison, MS was named after. The first settlers to the area established themselves near the route of the stagecoach, which they fondly named “Madisonville”, which had a bank, hotel, race track, and wagon factory. Once the rail road station was built in 1856, the naming of the town as “Madisonville” began to die, as the allure of a promising future caused the population to grow in leaps and bounds, and calling the town Madison took hold.
Although no battle was waged on Madison soil, they still were severely affected by the Civil War. After the Civil War ended, the railroad was a magnet for business. In fact, the Land Company offered prime real estate for $3 an acre, to encourage northern businesses to “go south”. In addition, it was boasted that Mississippi had a very low debt ratio (less than $20 per capita), as well as a higher quality of life when compared to people living in Massachusetts and New York.
In 1900, a fire nearly destroyed most of Madison. A few churches, including the Methodist Church on the corner of Herron and Main Streets survived. This landmark is the home of Pickenpaugh Pottery today. Other original buildings that survived the fire include the Boudouaquie, Montgomery, Hoy, and Henry Rogers House.
A schoolhouse was built by the towns’ people of Madison, and within this “house” youngster’s grades 1 through 12 were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. Also nearby, a gymnasium and an arcade were built during the mid-1930’s. Today, these buildings make up the “Madison Square Center for the Arts.”
Growth of Madison, MS
Madison was considered a town until 1985. During this time, Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler signed an order that reclassified Madison from a town to a city. The city flourished, as it grew from a small quaint town into a carefully planned city. Strict architectural controls and building guidelines help to preserve the integrity and the charm of yesteryear of one of the fastest growing cities in Mississippi. According to AreaVibes.com, Madison is ranked as the second most livable city in Mississippi.
The Simmon’s Arboretum is ten (10) acres of land that was donated to the city by Doctor and Mrs. Walter Simmons more than 20 years ago. Today, residents and visitors enjoy this educational walking trail that is carefully marked, identifying plants and other wildlife along the path.
Strawberry Patch Park was the first official park in Madison, and remains as a reminder of the many strawberry fields that graced that land. In fact, at one point in time, Madison was known as the “strawberry capital of the world.”
What started out as the 23rd county in Mississippi in 1828, it quickly became the home of many Carolina and Virginia settlers, due to the fertile soil that was lush for farming. It is now the home to many thriving businesses and a place that is worth a visit. For more information about this city, visit the website http://www.madisonthecity.com.