Madison, GA: a Step Back in Time
Want to break up a driving trip in the SE United States? A stop in Madison, Georgia is a refreshing break and a nice alternative to nearby Atlanta.
Dating from 1809, Madison is one of Georgia’s largest and oldest historic districts and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Frequently described as one of the South’s “prettiest” towns, and has a lost-in-time, slow vibe that can indeed transport you to the past.
It secured a place in history by being on the stagecoach route between Charleston and New Orleans and spared burning by Union General Sherman during the Civil War. Although a town filled with homes of wealthy plantation owners would’ve seemed ripe for destruction, Mayor Joshua Hill was a strong supporter of the Union. Serving in the House of Representatives, he had ties to Sherman’s brother and during the War, he made a gentleman’s agreement with Sherman’s detachment to spare the town. Hill later served in the US Senate. Of note, despite Hill’s Unionist leanings, much of the community, and even members of his own family, were committed Confederates.
Close to 100 antebellum homes have been restored and are easy to see with self-guided driving or walking tours. Like its nearby neighbor Covington, the town has served as backdrop for many productions (American Made, Goosebumps, I’ll Fly Away) and has a cute downtown with restaurants, local shops, and antique stores (which sadly, I didn’t have time to visit).
Explore Georgia has a great 28-stop self-guided tour, packed with info, that’s easy to use through a smartphone or tablet. One warning, it would be a loooong walk. Since we visited during the dog days of summer – we drove.
A fun fact – Oliver Hardy, of Laurel and Hardy fame, lived here most of the first eight years of his life, while his mother ran a boarding house.
Many of the private homes are surrounded by lush trees and shrubs making it difficult to get great pics, so you can check out the links above for some older shots with less landscaping and wonderful historic prints. Here are a few highlights from our tour:
We stayed at the James Madison Inn. A new building combining residences with hotel rooms. It was nice, comfortable, and very conveniently located; with breakfast included.