Undeniably, Madison’s history is one of the unique reasons for visiting. The town would not be what it is today without countless influential women whose impressive pasts are worth discovering.
With our easy 2-day women’s history itinerary below, we invite you to learn a little more about our local women and the places they made history!
Tour the Home of Adeline Rose
Born into slavery during the Civil War, little is recorded of Ms. Adeline Rose’s early life. We do know that by her 20s, she was widowed with two young children to support. Ms. Rose earned her living by taking in laundry and ironing at 50 cents a load. Much of her business was with The Hardy House, which was a Madison hotel opened by the mother of American comedic icon Oliver Norvell Hardy.
A pioneer of her time, Adeline Rose created a successful business despite the racial and gender barriers she faced. With her earnings, she purchased a small lot adjacent to the Georgia Railroad right-of-way in town and constructed the stately Rose Cottage for her family in 1891. Ms. Rose died in 1959 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery beside her grandson. People to this day marvel at what she was able to achieve despite the circumstances.
In 1966, the cottage was moved to its current location for preservation purposes and is now one of Madison’s three historic house museums managed by the Morgan County Historical Society.
Enjoy Cooke Fountain at Town Park
Stroll to Town Park and relax with the soothing sounds of Cooke Fountain. Sarah Benham Judd Cooke (1816-1903) was a local philanthropist. She not only funded the first local library and her church but also the courthouse clock. The Cooke Memorial Fountain was erected in memoriam at the intersection in front of the courthouse (1908). When the roads were paved in the 1920s, it moved to the town square but was relocated again with the construction of the Post Office.
Unfortunately, pieces of the original three-tiered fountain were lost in the process, save for the “Grecian Maiden” that topped the structure. Decades later, the original molds for the fountain were tracked down, and a replica was cast. Donated by Stephen D. Cooke to the Bicentennial Committee for Town Park, the fountain reminds onlookers of Ms. Cooke’s many contributions. The original “Grecian Maiden” is housed at Heritage Hall. Sarah Cooke is buried in the Old Madison Cemetery.
Have Lunch at Martha's Favorites
Want a bite to eat? Head over to Martha’s Favorites, a Black women-owned and family-run soul food restaurant a short walk from Town Park. Martha Williams, owner and cook, took over the restaurant that was operating under the same name in November 2010. Raised right here in Morgan County, Ms. Williams worked in restaurants since she was 13 years old with the dream of eventually owning her own establishment. The soul food is amazing and comes with a dessert you cannot resist!
Tour Heritage Hall
Tour beautiful Heritage Hall. Built in 1811, this stunning Greek Revival home was purchased by Mrs. Sue Reid Walton Manley in 1946. Known as “Madison’s First Lady” for her patronage to local churches, the City of Madison, and education, Mrs. Manley hosted grand parties, weddings, and receptions for Madison’s finest citizens. Among those married in the house was Mrs. Manley’s granddaughter who later deeded Heritage Hall to the Morgan County Historical Society. Their portraits still hang on display.