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.

310 Church Street - Anderson - Doherty Home

This home was built in 1979 by Larry Anderson, one of the sons of Gene and Marion Hughes Anderson, owners of Hughes Hardware. After his father's death in 2002 Larry stayed with his mother in the new home at 100 Bluebelle Drive, where he still resides. Marion passed away in 2011, and she was truly one of Madison's "grand old ladies," loved by all.

Gene Anderson was Mayor of Madison from 1957 to 1965. He also served on the Madison Water Board for 35 years, until 1984. He was a beloved and kind man in the store at 212-216 Main Street, treating youngsters like his own grandchildren.

This home is owned today by Timothy
and Maxine Doherty.

309 Church Street Wikle - Lanz Home

The Wikle-Lipscomb-Lanz home is one of the oldest homes on Church Street. It was built circa 1880 by Elizabeth Perkins. It was sold that same year toM. L. Hardage who in turn sold it to Mariah Louise Apperson in 1902. The home was sold again in 1904 to one of Madison's early, prominent citizens, Dr. Luther L. Wikle.

Dr. Wikle was an 1888 graduate of the University of Tennessee and used the home for his medical office from 1904 until he and his son, Dr. Jesse Ollie Wikle, joined their practices and moved to the second floor of the drug store at 210 Main Street in 1923.

Dr. Wikle married twice, the second time to the former Dicy Jane Armstrong who died in Madison in
1939. Dr. Wikle continued to practice until his death in 1941 at the age of 86.

The home displays some interesting historic elements in the original L-shaped floor plan. The one story home with a metal, gabled roof has a front porch which extends across the front of the house. A massive eight foot front door with stained glass panels leads into the foyer. Rooms on either side of the foyer have twelve foot ceilings. The design of the original home was called a" dog trot" design.

Katie Hughes Lipscomb and her husband Tom purchased the home in 1942. Gerald and Amy Lanz purchased the home in 1987 and live there today.

308 Church Street Farley - Sturdivant Home

Built in 1910, the Farley-Sturdivant home was constructed on land granted to the State of Alabama
by the United States government on March 2, 1819. It was conveyed to James Clemens on January 5,
1854. The home was built by J. Wesley Taylor of Mobile and sold to Mr. J. Pryor Farley on November 19, 1910.

The Sturdivant's purchased the home on August 7, 1943 from Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Gatlin. The Sears and Roebuck home is in the Victorian style with a gable roof. The apex of the gable features carved
fish scales and diamonds. The wrap-around porch has original gingerbread trim on engaged columns.  The other columns were replaced with wrought iron and the original weather board was covered
with asbestos singles.  Mr. and Mrs. Claude "Tiny" Sturdivant had two sons, Claude L. Sturdivant, Jr. and James G. Sturdivant.

Mr. Sturdivant was the son of the late Robert L. "Bob" Sturdivant who was mayor of Madison for a
number of years. Mrs. Sturdivant is the daughter of the James C. Gormley, who was a depot agent and city clerk. Mrs. Sturdivant's Grandmother Gormley was the sister of Dr. George R. Sullivan, an early physician in Madison.

307 Church Street Thomas - Wheeler Home

Built in 1910 by Dea T. Thomas, the style of this home is Queen Anne Victorian. The two-story "T" style features an unusual central entry with a split staircase with a balcony or "open hall." There is a sleeping porch on the second floor rear. The home also has a full front porch. The home has been added to in the rear. In the 1950's, the home was divided into three apartments. The home was later restored to a single home by a previous owner.

Owners Gerald and Peggy Wheeler purchased the home in 1986. It features eleven foot ceilings downstairs and nine foot upstairs. Wide baseboards and bulls eye window and door trim are original to the home. It also features three original fireplaces downstairs. The Wheeler's replaced all three mantels and hearths.

306 Church Street Gillespie- McDermott- Andrewjeski Home

The Gillespie-Wikle home was built in 1987 by William H. Gillespie. Thomas Logan Bradford
and his wife Fannie Burton moved into the home in 1906. Tom was a pharmacist working with
his future father-in-law, John Mullins Burton. In 1905 he bought another drugstore in Madison
in partnership with James Harvey Pride-- not the senior of that name (a state senator), but his grandson.  In 1918, citing bad business, Tom Bradford committed suicide by overdosing on morphine from his drugstore.  Fannie was left with two daughters and moved into the house of her father John Burton at 21 Front Street.

Mrs. Ora Wikle, a Madison school teacher, lived in the home for approximately twenty years. She was the daughter-in-law of Dr. Luther L. Wikle, a Madison physician who lived across the street at 309 Church Street. Mrs. Wikle built an addition to the north side of the home and rented this as an apartment for a number of years.

The home has had several owners over the years. Stephen and Brenda Hopkins purchased the home
in 1982. They later sold it to Dale and JoAnn McDermott.

In 1998, Mike and Nell McMinn purchased the home. They replaced the old kitchen with a new one
along with cosmetic touches through-out the home. They also added a white picket fence to the front
yard. Michael and Judy Andrewjeski most recently lived in this home but they have recently sold the home and moved.

305 Church Street

305 Church Street (1935) faces east. Built with elements of the Tudor style, this one-story brick house has a crossgabled roof and exterior chimney on the south gable wall. The windows are eight over eight sash, with true divided lights. 

A large two-story addition has been added to the north side of the house. CONTRIBUTING

304 Church Street - Bradford - Lowery - Turner Home

304 Church Street (original photo marked as 306 Church
From at least 1910 to 1930, Mollie Whitworth Bradford lived here, beside her son Tom Logan Bradford at 306 Church Street.  Mollie was the wife of John Logan Bradford and daughter of Samuel and Ann B. Whitworth.

This house has been named the Bradford - Lowery Home in older publications, but the history has
not been researched lately.  Above is a photo from the Historical Society's files, and to the left is the house the way it appeared in December of 2001.

Until recently, this home was owned by William Dillard Turner III, and tax records show it was constructed in 1940.

302 Church Street Lewis - Wann - Powell Home

This historic home has recently been extensively and impressively restored, remodeled, and enlarged by Teddy and Rikki Powell. It originally was built by Arthur Holding Lewis, a son of Meriwether A. Lewis of Triana. Lewis descendants say that Meriwether owned three steamboats to carry cotton to market from his plantation. It is believed that beams from one of the salvaged river boats formed the foundation of this house. Arthur Lewis had a store at the 104 Main Street location that is now a parking lot. Arthur married Mattie Cartwright after a short, but strange, courtship, and their family includes ties to the local Humphrey and Spencer families, as well as ancestral lineage back to George Washington's grandfather.  There are definite indications that this home was initially constructed by A. H. Lewis in 1873, possibly as a condition of getting Mattie to marry him.

The Lewis home eventually was owned by Fred and Ora B. Wann. Fred worked as a clerk in the post
office, while Ora was the postmaster for many years. To the right is an older photo of the house from the Historical Society files.

301 Church Street

Professor T. G. Riddle, principal of Madison School (the old two-story building), built the Hughes home in 1910. He owned a horse which he kept in the back yard. The concrete watering trough is still behind the home. The family played tennis in the back yard; the lot was enclosed by a board fence.

Professor Riddle and his son, Harry, who owned the home next door on the north side (the Walton
Hughes home), were in the banking business together. Professor Riddle left Madison in the 1920's.
At that time, a Mrs. Merts from Huntsville purchased the home and rented it to various tenants. She
later sold the home to Mrs. Etta Lewis who was the mother of Mrs. Gordon "Mattie Belle" Hughes. The home and lot sold for three thousand dollars.

The present owners are Don Hughes Spencer and his wife, Patsy. Mr. Spencer is the great-grandson
of Mrs. Etta Lewis, the grandson of Mattie Belle and Gordon Hughes and the son of Barbara Ann
Hughes and Donald Spencer.

207 Church Street - Hertzler Home Site

207 Church Street
The present home at 207 Church Street was built in 1960 according to tax records.  Originally, this home site belonged to Dr. John Huber Hertzler and his wife Anna Garber. 
Dr. Hertzler and Anna moved, along with their children, from Ohio to Madison circa 1869. Here they built the ornate house shown at the right. Hertzler also acquired extensive lands of what is today the northwestern portion of Redstone Arsenal, where he built another equally large and impressive house, living in both as the inclination occurred.  Dr. John's son Frank Hertzler built the house at 25 Front Street and lived there during his adult life, while also owning arsenal lands.
Hertzler Home

208 Church Street May - Howard Hughes Home

Roy and his wife Ada purchased land adjoining both Cora Mae and Nina Garrett on the east side of Church Street in 1918-1919. Since the house at the right is recorded in the tax records as having been constructed in 1918, Roy may have built it. However, later in 1919 he and Ada sold their land to Ora B. Wann and to John Mullins Burton, so they were not here long. Yet, today part of the area along Church Street and Mill Road is called the May Development on court plats.

Our local Howard Hughes and his wife Lorene Howard (married in 1931) owned this house. 33
Howard died in 1971; Lorene passed away in 1999. Today's owner is Harriet Hess Polskoy.

206 Church Street Humphrey Home

This was the home of Cora Mae Lewis and her husband James Hermon Humphrey,
a son of James Alexander Humphrey. The tax records show that the house was built in 1898,
which is the same year as of their marriage. The home may have been built as a condition of the marriage of Cora Mae to James.

Cora Mae was a daughter of Arthur H. Lewis, who married Mattie Cartwright after a rather
Cora Mae
strange courtship. Mattie was a daughter of Hezekiah Bradley Cartwright, son of area pioneer John Cartwright. Cora Mae's lineage went through Arthur Lewis to the Meriwether A. Lewis of Triana and has been traced back to the grandfather of George Washington. 

Cora Mae and her husband James, sold land adjoining their residential home site to Roy and Ada L. May in 1918. This land would later become the home site of 208 Church Street.

205 Church Street - Broyles- Sturdivant Home

This home was built in 1917 by Douglas C. Broyles, a merchant I salesman in the town. The home is
in the bungalow style with what is called a four square floor plan , which is four rooms forming a square, with no hallway.

The original home had one bedroom. Prior to the 1950's, two small rooms were added to the back.
The home features ten foot ceilings, original heart pine floors, and rosettes at the top corners of the
windows and doors. It has two fireplaces with a third said to be hidden behind the dining room's built-in hutch and buffet.

The home has been in the Sturdivant family since the 1950's. It was home to Charles
and Kim Sturdivant for several years. Charles is the son of Jim Sturdivant and grandson
of Claude and Tiny Sturdivant who lived at 308 Church Street.

204 Church Street - Pruitt - Dublin Home

The Pruitt- Dublin house was built by Joe Pruitt around 1910. It was sold to a Mr. Fisk of Fayetteville, Tennessee. He moved back to Fayetteville and sold the place to Howard Dublin in 1937. Howard rented the house to others while he lived in Greenbrier, Alabama. Howard and his wife Sallie Williams Dublin moved into the house in 1942. Howard died there in 1972, while Sallie lived in the house until her passing in 1994.

Howard was Mayor of Madison from 1949 to 1950. He was a brother of Clyde Dublin, namesake of Dublin Park.  They were nephews of Jim Williams of 19 Front Street. They were also descendants of Roland and Elizabeth Gooch, who had a daughter (Eleanor) that married James Dublin. Their son Westley M. Dublin had a son, Westley Lee Dublin, who was the father of Clyde and Howard. It was Roland and Elizabeth Gooch who deeded land in 1838 for the Methodist Church on Church Street when it was located at Old Madison Pike and Hughes Road.

The Pruitt- Dublin House burned in 2005. It may have been the site where old timers of the town told of a little girl drowning in a cistern across from the church in the 1920's or 1930's.

The Madison Roundhouse

Madison was once well known for an unusual landmark called "the little roundhouse". It was built in the 1880's, over the well that supplied the town's water needs. The well pump was a double hand-lever pump, operated on the order of a railway handcar.

The octagon-shaped building was erected while Captain John B. Floyd, a Civil War veteran, was mayor of Madison.  The Building was located on the south side of the railroad tracks and caused considerable comments from train passengers and others traveling through the community.  Above the well was constructed the odd-shaped, one story building, perched on top of eight foot stilts. The roundhouse served as the city hall and many activities were held there including elections, card playing and hair cutting when the barber visited once a week. A stairway led to the tiny offices.  Unfortunately, this historic landmark was sold and dismantled about 1938. The foundation still stands in downtown Madison next to the former police station.

At one time Madison's economy depended on cotton. Practically all businesses were directly related in one way or another to this product. Cotton remained all important until the late 1950's when Redstone Arsenal was reactivated. Since that time cotton planting has declined steadily.  Madison's area population remained steady over a period of many years with little variation between four and five hundred. Businesses remained about the same with later additions of service stations and a telephone office. Madison did not see any appreciable growth until 1955. At that time Redstone Arsenal began to enlarge and the population began a steady increase. Lands were surveyed for modern subdivisions the first of which was called Hughes Heights, in 1956. By 1957, Madison officials were instigating modern improvements for the town. Modem curbs and gutters were installed as well as street lights, and the city purchased its first police car.

The reproduction roundhouse was built in 1986 to coincide with the first street festival. Most of the supplies and labor were donated. Today it is operated as a museum of Madison.

203 Church Street

The Haney-Gillespie house is one of the oldest houses on Church Street.  It was built circa 1885 by Dr. Haney a Madison physician.  Mr. Haney lived there until 1903.  The house changed hands several times until Mr. and Mrs. William C. Gillespie purchased it in 1928.  Mr. Gillespie was superintendent of Madison Waterworks for many years.

The L-shaped house is a good example of a late nineteenth century cottage with its Victorian gingerbread decoration.  Decorative brackets are attached to the ends of the wooden version of a string course which extends across the front of the house.  The corner porches at front and back have partially turned posts with brackets that connect the gingerbread decorations on the cornice boards.

The house remained in the Gillespie family until Mrs. Gillespie's death in 1994.  Her husband died in 1985.  

127 Church Street - Madison United Methodist Church

The Madison United Methodist Church was organized in 1828. A deed was issued in 1837 to the ''Trustees of the Methodist Church in U.S. of America" by Rowland and Elizabeth Gooch and was recorded in 1838. The church was located at the crossroads of the present Old Madison Pike and Hughes Road intersection, also known as Riddle's Corner and the "Old Triana Road." The church was one office churches on the circuit and remained on the circuit until 1913 when it became a full pastorate under Rev. J. Duncan Hunter who later became District Superintendent. The church was originally known as "The Methodist Episcopal Church, South."

The present site was purchased in 1873, and the church was rolled on logs to the present lo­ cation. At that time, it was a one­ room frame building. In 1947, under the leadership of Rev. Thelmer Vaughn, the building was brick veneered and the first educational units were built, including the kitchen, dining room, pastor's study and Memorial Windows. This effort was completed in April 1948. Rev. S. Allen Balch, a native of Madison, held the official opening. The Dedication Service was held on Sunday, September 2, 1951, with Bishop Clare Purcell, who served the circuit from 1910-1913, leading the service.

A second addition included classrooms, a kitchen and a fellowship hall. It was completed in 1964 under the leadership of Rev. Howard Collins. In 1987, under the leadership of Rev. Joe Estes, the vestibule was remodeled including a new floor, doors and steps. On the north side, a ramp was installed where the old entrance was located.

About 56 pastors have served the church from Alexander Little Page Green in1828 to our present
pastor, Rev. Bobby Ray Halbrooks, who came to the church from St. Luke United Methodist Church in Decatur, Alabama in 1996.

The following statement was made by one of the pastors to the Quarterly Conference:
"No better people can be found anywhere than those of the Madison United Methodist Church."

And this still applies today.
Contributed by: Percy Keel
Church Historian

114 Church Street - Morrison Home

114 Church Street Morrison Home - 1959

The Madison County Tax Assessor's website shows this house as having been constructed in 1959. It is the home of Louese Angel Morrison. Older photos of the house show that Morrison has greatly improved the grounds over the years, resulting in almost a park-like environment.

19 Front Street


(A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin)
Originally written May 23, 2010
Updated November 19, 2012

Madison Belles -2010
Several years ago I wrote of the mansion built by James Edward Williams at 19 Front Street in the historic original downtown part of Madison, on the north side of the railroad tracks between Sullivan Street and Church Street.  

The impressive multi-story home with wrap-around porches on two levels proudly graces the Front Street line of old houses reflecting the glory of Madison in the early 1900s.  The back wing of this house was built around 1869 by William B. Dunn, Madison’s first railroad depot agent, who was also a physician.  Dunn was a brother of Jackie Dunn Wiggins, who lived on a plantation east of today’s jetplex.  The two-story part of the house was constructed by Jim and Mattie Whitworth Williams around 1904, incorporating Dunn’s house as part of the dwelling, which makes it probably the oldest house standing within the historic town limits of Madison.  

The home was purchased and saved from decay by Chris and Lynn Crumbley in January of 2011.  They have restored the structure to its former glory, making interior improvements that considerably added to its modern functionality and decor while retaining the historical features.
J. E. Williams, raised in Madison, forms a splendid example of what an ambitious man may accomplish by grasping opportunities that abound in this community.  He started in young manhood (at age 16) sharecropping on the farm of Dr. W. F. Pride in 1883.  In the year 1892 he had accumulated enough funds to purchase a farm of 180 acres, from the proceeds of which he bought in 1896 another tract containing 640 acres.  In 1900 he added 280 acres to  his possession.  In 1903 he added another parcel of 560 acres and still more all along the way.  Commencing without funds he has pushed forward.  He has surmounted every difficulty, gradually building upward all the time until he now owns four large farms aggregating about 1900 acres.  His farms are worth an average of about $20 per acre.  The annual production of the farms is conservatively estimated to be about $18,000.  Mr. Williams also raises considerable livestock, especially cattle, which he uses in his own market in connection with his mercantile establishment.  Thereby he assures his customers the best meats at lowest possible prices.  Aside from a full and complete line of merchandise, in which may be found just about anything that could possibly be needed in the home or on the farm, he also handles farm implements.  He has just now begun supplying a long-standing need of the town by establishing a first-class livery stable.  Mr. Williams has assisting in his business those two ‘old reliable’ clerks, Tom W. Carter and Arthur H. Lewis.

The June 2010 Madison street tours sponsored by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau began across Front Street at the nearby Roundhouse.  The “Madison Belles” (young ladies in antebellum costume) assisted.  That particular year of the street tours included access to the first floor of the unoccupied Williams mansion.  Because of inclement weather that arose, a slide show of selected historic Madison photos was presented for the touring public in the dining room of 19 Front Street as a substitute for walking in the rain to see other historic homes.

The 1913 newspaper misstated Williams' childhood to a degree.  He was not “raised in Madison,” but rather on a farm in Limestone County near Madison.  On the other hand, the newspaper included not only the life story article, but it also printed a photo of the house and a photo of the man, with the caption “Mr. J. E. Williams, Alderman, Merchant and Planter”.

After the newspaper's  publication, Williams incorporated
Madison Telephone Company on March 4, 1919.  This was at a time when most towns in the South had no such instruments.  

For those who want to know more about the man and the mansion, additional details and connections can be found on CD-ROMs or DVDs available from the Madison Historical Society.  There is also related coverage in the sesquicentennial book of Madison, available at Main Street Cafe and Madison Station Antiques on Main Street in Madison.

Jim and Mattie Whitworth Williams
in their home, circa 1910

112 Church Street Wann - Curry Home

This is the home of Gordon and Monica CurryThe tax assessor's records show it as having been built in 1935but often it is known that structures are older than those records show. It is also known that this was the home of William and Vida Wann. William was a merchant at 206 Main Streetpreviously the store of Dea Theodore Thomas. Wann operated the store with general merchandise from 1917 to 1940. Thomas had it from 1904 to 1917. Considering the time of Wann's merchandising on Main Streetit is believed that he may have constructed this house before 1935, but research of the history is not yet completed.

The census of 1920 shows William as age 33, born in Alabama around 1887. His wife Vida was listed then as 32, also born in Alabama. In the 1930 census, Vida was living on Front Street as a widow, making a living as a bookkeeper in a dry goods store.

110 Church Street Canterbury - Keebler Home

This distinct and impressive house was the home of William E. Canterbury and his wife Matilda BinfordWilliam was listed in census records as a farmer in 1920but as a salesman and clerk in a general store in 1900 and 1910. He was born at the end of the Civil War in 1865, a son of Thomas Canter­bury who was a Confederate Army veteran. William married Matilda in 1904, and in 1905 they bought the house and lot on Church Street from Frank G. Hertzler and Harvey Anderson.  This purchase was recorded in Deed Book 91, page 598.

When William Canterbury had a store, it was located in what has more recently been Hughes Hardwarethe two-story building south of the railroad tracks216 Main Street. Matilda died before the 1930 censuswhen William was listed as a widower. William was a nephew of an older William Canterbury in the townbut that one had the middle initial "J." William J. Canterbury lived on the west side of Sullivan Street, in the Pension Row area when it had a Masonic Lodge that shared a building with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church thereWilliam J. was listed in the 1900 census as a farmerbut in 1910 and 1920 he was shown as a preacher or minister. Perhaps he preached in the Presbyterian Church near where he lived. His wife was Katie K., who was about 15 years younger than William J., who died in 1941 at approximately age 98.

Vintage Vignette: Rules For School Teachers - 1915

(A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin, May 2, 2010) 

1903 Madison Training School

Before Percy Keel passed away in January of this year, he gave me many of his historical collection items for safekeeping.  Among them is a large three-ring binder of clippings about the history of Madison schools with notes of their pupils and staff in the early 1900s.  Within that notebook is a page entitled “Rules for 1915 Schoolteachers” attributed to Buckeye Farm News, which in turn quoted from an unnamed teachers’ magazine of the day.  Whether or not any of these rules were ever applied here is not known to me, but they certainly would have fit 1915 life in the town of Madison, judging from other items of the time that I have found.  The rules are repeated here to perhaps illustrate to some degree how much times have changed.

·        You will not marry during the time of your contract.
·        You are not to keep company with men.
·        You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless attending a school function.
·        You may not loiter downtown in any of the ice cream stores.
·        You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the chairman of the board.
·        You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.
·        You may not smoke cigarettes.
·        You may not dress in bright colors.
·        You may under no circumstances dye your hair.
·        You must wear at least two petticoats.
·        Your dresses must not be any shorter than two inches above the ankle.
·        To keep the schoolroom neat and clean, you must:  sweep the floor at least once daily; scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water; clean the blackboards at least once a day; and start the fire at 7 a.m. so the room will be warm by 8 a.m.

Obviously, these rules were developed with the assumption that only unmarried women were to be teachers.  It is not clear today why loitering in an ice cream store would be disallowed, but probably that would be taken back then as an indication of a young lady of loose morals being available for approach by a lecherous male.  Apparently, schools of the day were extremely careful to maintain a strict image of absolute propriety by those who were shaping the lives of young students.  It was also “good for business”, as schools in those days were generally attended on a voluntary and personal cost basis.  Accordingly, parents had to be constantly convinced of the proper conduct of those associated with any school where they would pay to send their children.

The December 17, 1913, special “Madison Booster” issue of THE WEEKLY MERCURY (a newspaper of Huntsville) stated that “More good and less bad can be truly said of Madison than of any other town and community of same population anywhere on earth… where the health conditions are unexcelled and where the best of schools are to be had, a high moral place of pure society, and where the effect of a wholesome religious influence is manifest on every hand….”

The Vintage Vignettes were originally a series of eight articles for publication in the Huntsville Times newspaper over a period of five years, 2007 - 2011. The articles in this eight-page historical newspaper issue were compiled by J. Willis Cargile.  He concluded his coverage with:
“Visit the attractive little city of Madison; it’s well worth your while….  We cannot ring off without adding a little post-script, commending the noble young people of that model little city for their sterling qualities and refined daring.  It is noticeable that the young men of the community love their homes and are entering into pursuits in their own town, and there are many merry Madison maids, who prefer home and mother in preference to parading the streets and gathering at the (railroad) Depot to flirt with the blue coats and brass buttons who may have daughters at home older than they are.  All Madison is proud of the elevated society among her most worthy and highly refined young gentlemen and young ladies.  There are many, many more good things to be said about Madison.”

Pension Row


by John P. Rankin

Doctor George Richard Sullivan, namesake of Sullivan Street, lived in his later years in a house on the west side of Sullivan Street near the north end of Pension Row.  The street named Pension Row runs through the middle of early Madison's westernmost development.  The name is thought to derive from a number of WW1 military veterans living on their service pensions along the street.  Prior to that time, this neighborhood was home to Madison's Male and Female Academy, which was in operation near the south end by 1883 or earlier.  Just north of that was an early 2-story Masonic Hall that was shared by a Presbyterian Church using the ground floor.  The two organizations met there on different days.

By 1926 the Masonic Lodge hall was used for the education of African American children until Cornelia, widow of blacksmith Henry Seay, deeded land on Pension Row for a new school.  In 1936 the W.P.A. provided materials, and local citizens provided the labor to erect a 3-room building.  Mr. L. C. Jamar was principal 1926-1947.  He was followed by Mrs. Dorothy Turner  for a short time, and in 1948 Rev. E. C. Binford became principal.  During his tenure, the school expanded twice, to a 5-room configuration and then to 16 rooms, with teachers for each room.  The expanded school consolidated those of nearby area schools in Triana, Capshaw, New Haven, Union Hill, Betts, and St. James, which had been meeting in churches and other lodge halls.  The Pension Row School burned in 1949 and was not rebuilt in that neighborhood.  West Madison Elementary School was constructed further north to replace it after several years, with an integrated staff and student body by the 1970s.

Information For Historical Marker:
"Pension Row is representative of many small town African American neighborhoods. Once a thriving community with its own schools, churches, businesses, lodges, and recreation areas, it has been a part of Madison since Madison was incorporated in 1869. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was home to most of Madison's black citizens, including businessmen, teachers, preachers, farmers, housekeepers, and workers in the town's gins and warehouses. The narrow streets, designed for horse-drawn carts, and the hedges, plantings, and trees help to define a strong sense of place, but the historic buildings are rapidly disappearing. 

Many dilapidated houses were demolished in the 1990s, and younger residents have moved away. Pension Row remains home to a small population, many of whom have lived here for generations. It has two historic churches: St. Peter United Methodist Church, founded in 1887, and St. Elizabeth Cumberland Presbyterian Church, founded in 1910. Both continue to draw worshippers from throughout western Madison County."


Coordinates:N 34° 41.747    W 086° 45.304
 34.69578333    -86.75506666

Pension Row Historical Marker
211-299 Arnett St
Madison, AL 35758