From 1833 to 1858, this lot was the original site of the Madison Baptist Church before it moved to its present location on Main Street. After the close of the Civil War, the Madison Baptist Church passed a resolution stating the following: should the black members of the church desire to organize a separate church, the congregation would aid them in doing so. In 1866, Calvary Baptist Church was formed and the congregation met in a wooden building at the end of Hill Street until their new building was completed. Using member labor, construction began in 1876 and was completed in 1883. Next door to the church you will see the Morgan County African American Museum.
John Wesley Moore was born in January 1862 in the last years of slavery, and lived to be forty-six years old. He married Dora Gordon on November 21, 1881, and they lived in a tenant house on land owned by a white farmer, James A. Fannin. The couple’s first child was born in October 1883. On April 10, 1890, Wesley Moore bought five acres of land as by that time he and his wife had four children. On October 31, 1899, Fannin deeded Moore forty-one acres of land “for five dollars in consideration of the service he has given me.” After Moore died in 1908, his widow inherited his land and other property. She lived in this house until her death in 1932. In 1989, this simple Folk Victorian one story frame house was moved from the Moore farm, two miles south of town, to its current location. The house was restored for use as the Morgan County African-American Museum.
Preservation of public springs was one of the first responsibilities of the newly incorporated town’s officials in 1809.Early efforts prohibited cutting timber within 60 yards of the spring and required keeping the fence around the spring lot in good repair. Bathing and washing clothes in the spring were also banned. This public spring, which for hundreds of years sent forth a bold, steady stream of pure, cold water, was the reason Madison’s founders chose to establish the court house, public buildings, and consequently the town at this place. Planted with indigenous flora, the park encompasses the “Spring Lot” through which the original public spring once flowed. The spring joins springs from adjoining properties and from Main Street’s ridgeline to create Tanyard Branch, named for the 1830s tanyard (tanning yard) that operated a little further down the watercourse.
Marking the new millennium, the City of Madison preserved the town’s birthdate by investing in a linear greenspace, complete with an elevated walk that affords a view of the branch and its confluence of springs. Spring Walk traverses the watercourse, passes a brick and granite Civil War era railroad culvert, and loops up through the City Cemetery – a series of historic cemeteries and the town’s largest open space.