2018 Madison Tour Of Homes

The first official event of Madison's 2019 Sesquicentennial is the December 1st, 2018 Tour of Historic Madison Homes.  The tour, sponsored by the Madison Station Historical Preservation Society will kick off the holiday season in beautiful Madison, AL!  

From 11:00 - 3:00 the first Saturday in December downtown Madison will be the place to be with five outstanding historic homes beautifully decorated for the holidays, carolers in period costumes performing throughout the tour at the Gazebo and downtown businesses welcoming shoppers and visitors!  

Ticket information coming Soon -- Tickets should be on sale in early November!

For more information visit:  
or Madison150@Madisonal.gov

QR Codes

What is a QR Code?

QR codes are pretty amazing, and we hope to use them a lot for the Madison Station Historic Station.
("QR" is short for Quick Response.) They work a lot like the bar codes that you might have seen on items at your local grocery - except you can use your cell phone to scan them.

Now that you know what they are, you will see them on many everyday things like on a map, sign, poster, etc. They can be used for all sorts of things, but the Madison Station Historical Preservation Society uses them to link back to articles on our website and blogs.

Make sure you download QR code reader app for your smartphone before you visit us and be on the lookout for QR codes in windows and other markers.. That way, you will be able to scan any QR code on your printable map and read all about whichever location you are currently visiting. This groundbreaking technology brings a new element to your visit in Madison, making it even more noteworthy.

There are many QR code readers in the App Store, and any should work with any of them. All you have to do is download one! If you don't know which App to chose, you can always click on the links below to help get you started!

iOS App     Google App

17 FRONT STREET, Anderson -- Sensenberger House

Matthew Harvey Anderson, Merchant and Director of the Bank of Madison, built this house sometime after July of 1904, the date when he purchased Lots 23 and 24.  It was occupied by Dr. James Allen Kyser for about 50 years before falling into neglect.  Tony and Cindy Sensenberger purchased the ready-to-collapse structure at auction in 1997.

The house is located on original Lots 23 and 24, including possibly part of Lot 22 in the yard.  Lot 24 was first purchased from James Clemens by carpenter Edmund “Ned” Martin on 5 March 1860, just about three months before Clemens’ death and about a year before the start of the Civil War and the associated Emancipation Proclamation. It was the last lot sold by Clemens himself. Edmund was a “free man of color” per deed recordss and the 1860 census. That census showed that Edmund was thirty years old, had a wife named Sarah at age forty-five and a daughter named Lucinda at age nine, all born in Alabama. They were enumerated in a complex of free black households clustered around the house of blacksmith William T. Dunnivant, who lived next door to Theodorick Clay, who lived on today's Front Street at the west side of Buttermilk Alley. Additional data in the Madison County deeds show that Edmund Martin was born in Morgan County.  He was living in Valhermosa Springs of Morgan County at the time of the 1870 census.

It may be that events related to the Civil War led to Edmund Martin abandoning Lot 24 or otherwise leaving Madison. The fact is that after the Reconstruction-era chancery court’s handling of the Clemens estate in 1868, physician and depot agent William Dunn sold Lot 24 to Bettie Turner. She was noted as his “coloured” servant in Deed Book JJ, pages 455–6. The sale was witnessed by Richard A. Wiggins and his son, Robert E. Wiggins. Richard's wife, Jackey G. Dunn. Wiggins, was a sister of William Dunn, who was enumerated in Richard’s household in the 1850 census. The Wiggins plantation was located near the southeastern corner of the Martin Road and Wall-Triana Highway intersection. After leaving the Wiggins plantation, Dr. Dunn may have initially lived in the first depot building, or he may have built a house on Lot 24, where Bettie would later live.  It is known that Dr. Dunn lived on Martin Street in the 1860 census.  Dr. Dunn's last house is known to be incorporated into the large house next door at 19 Front Street on Lots 20 and 21. Dunn purchased Lot 19 in January 1860, so he may have lived there for a time.  He also owned Lots 22 and 26–28 north of Front Street before his passing in 1871.

During the Civil War, Dunn had a “movie script” experience. According to the 1913 special edition of the Huntsville Weekly Mercury newspaper that related the history of Madison, when the Union army first occupied Huntsville and wanted to go by rail to Decatur, they feared sabotage and attacks along the way.  When they reached Madison, which was not yet occupied by Union troops, they took Dr. Dunn and tied him to the front of a flatcar placed ahead of the engine.  The theory was that if a derailment or an attack came, he would be the first to suffer. The federals also suspected that Dunn had information that he would not tell. It turned out that the tracks were sabotaged, and the federals were fired upon as they reached Beaver Dam Creek, west of Madison. When the car with hostage Dunn left the tracks, he became dislodged from his bindings and fell into some bushes, where he hid until after the ensuing skirmish. The Union forces found him frightened but unhurt. Soon thereafter, Madison itself was occupied by Union forces, during which time there was no post office, and only the Federal's supply store was allowed to operate in the town. Of course, the men who owned the other stores were all gone to serve in the Confederate military. Growth and commerce in Madison were halted during the war, but they quickly returned at the end of hostilities.

In 1871, just weeks before his death, William Dunn also sold Lot 23 to the same Bettie Turner for use “during her lifetime,” per Deed Book RR, page 584. After Turner’s death, in December 1901 Mrs. Annie E. Wiggins Sanders filed a copy of Turner’s last will and testament with the probate court. The filing showed that Turner had died with no heirs or next of kin and that she left all her property “of any kind” to Mrs. Sanders. The original of her will had been given to Dr. Isaac F. Deloney for safekeeping, but he had moved to Leighton in Lawrence County and misplaced the will, according to his testimony. The copy held by Sanders was validated by her uncle, Dr. William Dunn (before his death), and by Dr. A. S. Harris of Madison. Thereafter, Lots 23 and 24 began a new series of ownership, becoming the property of Matthew Harvey Anderson in 1904.  Harvey Anderson was one of the Directors of the Bank of Madison which was founded in 1904.  He also was a principal partner of both Anderson–Bronaugh & Company and the Hertzler–Anderson Company.  Both businesses were general stores which, according to the 1905 Alabama Merchantile book listings, sold groceries and other merchandise -- there being 12 such listings in Madison.  Harvey and his wife, Annie Hertzler Anderson, were both from Ohio with Pennsylvania roots.  In fact, Annie’s father, Dr. John Hertzler, also came to Madison from Ohio following the Civil War.  Annie's brother, Frank Hertzler, later built and lived in the house at 25 Front Street.

After constructing a large house on the lot along Front Street, the Anderson's sold it by 1926 to Dr. James Allen Kyser. Dr. Kyser was recognized by the U.S. government for helping to bring the 1918–9 flu epidemic under control in north Alabama. The Kyser family lived in the house for nearly fifty years, and then it was purchased by Billy J. and Nancy Jane Jones of Huntsville.  In 1997, the collapsing and abandoned old house was purchased at auction by Tony and Cindy Sensenberger. They lovingly restored and expanded it, keeping as much of the original structure as possible. Today the house has surpassed even its former glory.

320 Martin Street, Pride – Bashore House

William Thomas Pride and his wife Mary Fletcher Pride built this house in 1911.  While their marriage is not included in the on-line listing provided by the Madison County Records Center (courthouse probate archives) at http://www.co.madison.al.us/mcrc/, the marriage is mentioned in the book about Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher, as written by his daughter Octavia in the early 1900's.  Octavia's sister Mary, wife of Dr. William T. Pride, was known to the family as "Tee".  Tee and "Willy T." Pride were probably married in Limestone County, since the Fletcher family had roots there.  In the census records of 1910 and 1920, Tee is shown as Mary G. Pride, born 1875, whereas William T. Pride was born about 1865.  Their firstborn son was listed in 1910 as James W. Pride (age 2), but in 1920 he was listed as Wilsey J. Pride (age 12).

Doctor Pride was one of six children of James Harvey Pride and his wife Amanda Butler.  James Harvey Pride was one of three respected citizens of Madison who were seized by the Union forces following a battle in the town on  May 17, 1864.  They were taken as presumed spies, to be executed for supposedly guiding the Confederate forces to eliminate the Union sentries, but a more reasonable Union officer intervened after a time, and the men were released unharmed.  The parents of James were Wilsey and Rebecca Pride.  Wilsey's will of 1848 was entered into probate in 1849.  Testators were Samuel Trotman, David Blackburn, and James Irvin.  The will listed as heirs Wilsey's widow Rebecca and seven children.  Specifically named were Mary Jane, Alexander, and Martha, all born to his second wife.  The listed heirs also included children by his first wife, who was Eleanor Gray.  These children were William, James H., Burton, and Margaret (born 1818, married to John Maxwell).  Eleanor was a daughter of William and Eleanor Wardrobe Gray, and she married Wilsey Pride in 1805.  After her passing, Wilsey married Rebecca Gray Love in 1839, according to several family trees posted on Ancestry.com.  Those trees show that Wilsey was born in 1783, a son of Burton Pride and Sarah Bizwell.  Burton Pride was a son of Thomas Pride, whose ancestry was shown back to the 1600s in Virginia and England, including intermarriages with the Burtons and Fowlers, surnames  found as pioneers of Redstone Arsenal lands.

James Harvey Pride's brother William G. Pride married Ellen Jane Gray.  In the 1850 census of Monroe County, Mississippi, the family of William G. Pride included Nancy Gray, age 65, born in Virginia, so the Pride and Gray families of Madison remained closely connected through the years.  James' son Walter married Katie Garner, and James' son Wilsey married Katie Mason.  Wilsey fathered another James Harvey Pride, who was born in 1877 and died by 1935.  This younger J. H. Pride, grandson of the senior and nephew of Dr. William Pride, was a partner in the firms of Pride & Bradford (drugstore) and Pride & Carter (general store) in Madison, according to the 1905 Alabama Mercantile Book.  He became an attorney, according to the 1929 Alabama Blue Book and Social Register.  This nephew of Dr. William Pride married Sallie LeRoy Betts, daughter of Judge Tancred Betts of Madison.

Tancred Betts was a son of Edward Chambers Betts.  Tancred served as Madison County Attorney, as well as Judge of Circuit Court and later as Judge of the Law & Equity Court.  He was a trustee of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University), and served for 10 years as Chairman of the Madison County Democratic Executive Committee.  He married Maude Minor Broun, a daughter of Dr. William LeRoy Broun and Sallie Fleming.

Edward Betts (father of Tancred) was born and raised on his father Charles Betts' plantation, a part of which was located between what is now Hughes Road, Gillespie Road, Brown's Ferry Road, and Wall-Triana Highway.  This is where the Kroger Shopping Center, the Madison Branch Library, and Bob Jones High School are today.  Members of the Maxwell family (married into the Pride and the Blackburn families) are buried in the Gray Cemetery, used by the old Providence Presbyterian Church, just to the northwest of the plantation.  There is another old cemetery on the plantation that could have originally been used by the Betts family, but it has no tombstones today, so the Betts family perhaps used the Gray Cemetery.  Edward Betts' father, Charles Edward Betts, lived in Lunenburg, Mecklenburg County, Virginia before coming to Madison County, Alabama to establish his local plantation.  He married Martha Cousins Chambers, a sister of United States Senator Henry Chambers, namesake of Chambers County, Alabama.

Edward Betts was the first Commissioner of Agriculture for Alabama, as well as an attorney and judge of the County Court.  He was educated in private schools in Madison County and by private tutors, going to the University of Virginia before studying and traveling in the east and abroad.  After practicing law for a number of years, he retired to the family plantation, serving as trustee of the University of Alabama.  In 1854 Edward married Virginia Augusta Swope in Lawrence County, Alabama.  She was a daughter of John Swope and Cyntha Early.  Cyntha shared common ancestry with General Jubal Early of the Confederacy and her Swope ancestors came from Ireland to Virginia in 1702.  The family is descended from Carbri Lifichar, an ancient King of Ireland, born in 225 A.D.

Interconnections of the Pride, Fletcher, Maxwell, Betts, Mason, Brown, and Gray families of the Madison area led to some interesting interactions.  For example, when Amanda Pride, widow of the older James Harvey Pride and mother of Dr. William T. Pride, went to court in Madison County to establish the right to inherit and sell the lands of her deceased husband, the case was adjudicated by Judge Tancred Betts, a relative.  In fact, one can be sure that members of these interconnected families visited the house at 320 Martin Street in Madison on many occasions as they celebrated special events, like the birth of sons James Wilsey Pride and Richard Fletcher Pride to Dr. William Pride and his wife Mary Fletcher.

113 Maple Street Thorson - Haas Home

Built just after the turn-of-the-century, the Thorson home displays all of the features repeated in many Madison homes. The Roy W. Thorson family lived in the home for many years. They were farmers.  The home is a one and one-half story with a hipped roof extending over the veranda which is supported by six Tuscan columns. The entrance has a transom and sidelights that extend to the transom.  The large front windows feature a beautiful leaded glass design across the top.

Ms. Joan Lynch Spruiell purchased the home in 1980. In 1981 , she had the plumbing and electrical
completely updated. Today, she and her husband, Scott Haas, live in the home; they were married in

Joan and Scott replaced the original tin roof with shingles and turned the unfinished attic into a master bedroom suite in 1986. They also replaced the missing, original banister around the veranda
in 1992.

312 Church Street Burton - Balch - Wilis Home

The Burton-Balch bungalow was built between 1880 and 1885. The original exterior of the home was board and baton. The original home also featured a porch at the back of the house that separated a summer kitchen and dining room from the rest of the house. This feature was replaced during later

The home is a basic bungalow design that has been added onto at least twice. Each addition has been to the back of the house resulting in a home that is significantly deeper than it is wide which disguises its size when viewed from the street. Today, the home consists of a foyer, three bedrooms, two baths, living room, dining room, family room, study, kitchen, breakfast room and laundry room all covering in excess of twenty-seven hundred square feet.

Mr. M. Samuel Balch purchased the home and two lots for $625 in 1915. His grandson, Joe Balch, Jr., purchased the home in 1951 where he resided until his death in 1998. The home was in the Balch family for over seventy years. Upon Mr. Balch's death, the home was sold to Brian and Tina Bice who owned the home for a short time. They made some renovations to the interior and exterior of the home including the addition of a detached garage.

In November 2000, Woody and Judy Pettigrew purchased the property. Since then, the Pettigrews
have made numerous renovations to the interior of the home including work on the two original fireplaces, redecorating each room in the home, renovating the family room with the additional of a third fireplace and the addition of built-in bookcases. Now James & Marsha Wilis are the owners.

311 Church Street Balch - Carter - Rivers Home

The Balch-Carter home was built in 191 0 by Joseph A. Balch, Sr., and wife, Clara V. Balch. It was
constructed on a parcel of land which was owned by Joseph's father, M. Samuel Balch. Joseph A.
Balch, Sr., was a rural letter carrier in the early 1900's. He used a horse and buggy and a motorcycle to deliver the mail.

The home displays a Colonial style with its steep, pitched roof and gabled dormer windows. A grove of oak trees at the site provided the framing materials to build the home.  Renovations to the interior have revealed that the interior walls are gumwood. The wooden walls were covered with a thick, felt-like material over which wallpaper was placed.

Jim and Lou Carter owned and occupied the home from May 1975 until their untimely deaths in 1996. The Carter's daughter, Lisa, and her husband, Randall Rivers,  occupied the home from 1998 until several years ago. They restored the home and also built a two-story addition.

The addition and renovations done by the Rivers have blended a modern kitchen and bath updates
with period woodwork and decor. The two original fireplaces were restored and converted to gas.
Original oak floors were restored throughout the first floor and matching wood floors were used in the addition. In the two-story addition, the downstairs features a gourmet kitchen and a master bedroom suite. The upstairs features two baths, a bedroom, a study and a large playroom.