CARTER-NEWTON HOUSE & TOWN COMMONS
Next door to you, the Carter-Newton House was built immediately after the first structure on the site burned in 1849. It is a classical “Gone with the Wind” type home boasting beautiful columns, wide halls, large rooms, and winding stairs. The previous building was the Madison Female Academy.
The house we see today immediately replaced the old school. It was built by Carter Shephard who occupied it for 17 years. The next owner was the widow Electra Carter. She was the great aunt of Mr. Edward T Newton who took possession in 1944, thus establishing over 100 years of family ownership.
Notice the carriage blocks in front of this home and many other homes within the historic district. They were placed near the edge of the sidewalk to assist a high reach from the ground into a carriage or the mounting of a horse parked along the street. On many of these you will see the last name of the family inscribed, this one reading “Newton.”
TOWN COMMONS (MILITIA FIELD/HORSE TRACK)
At Walker Street, take a right. This field of pecan trees on your left is the only remaining open space of the once large, unplatted area known as the Madison Town Commons. In 1809, the same year that the town of Madison was incorporated, five men got together and built a horse racetrack on or near this property. The track remained until the 1830s when the land was subdivided. The area today runs from Porter Street, down Fourth Street, to Walton Street, and back up Academy Street to Porter.
Some of the first settlers into Madison were wealthy planters who brought with them ‘blooded horses,’ which they were eager to show off, race, and ride. They enjoyed going to town with their prancing horse hooked to a sporty two wheeled “gig” or carriage. This open space was not just for horse racing; it was also a field for military training. The General Militia Acts directed that all male residents from eighteen to forty-five years old enroll in their district company and perform regularly scheduled drills at the designated unit muster ground. This space was the muster ground for General Militia District 276, also known as the City District.