Friday, August 22, 2014

Madison, on Georgia's Antebellum Trail

One hour east of Atlanta lies the historic town of Madison, where Antebellum mansions and Southern charm thrive. Pick up a map at the Welcome Center in the town square and begin your own journey down the Antebellum trail. Start at Heritage Hall, located in one of the oldest and largest of the National Historic Districts, and current headquarters for Madison's Historical Society. (Stop #4 of 46 on the architecture walking/driving tour.) This 1811 home was built by Dr. Elijah Jones, who was a physician for the Confederacy.  

He set up his surgery in one of the back rooms of the house, after the Yankee General Sherman's Army burned his downtown office, on their march to the sea. You can browse through the doctor's medical books and equipment. Did you know that in those days, medical school lasted only one year? After that, young physicians learned by doing, under the supervision of older practitioners.

In the dining room, pull up a chair beside the large oval mahogany table, set with hand painted china, and listen to the docent's story of how gentlemen dinner guests would enjoy after-dinner cigars and port in the dining room, while the ladies retreated to the drawing room beyond the carved wooden pocket doors, for tea.
Marvel at the toys and furniture in the childrens' bedroom, including a tiny china tea set, a 200-year-old doll, and a miniature bicycle. There's even a topsy-turvy doll lying on a toddler's bed.
Did you know that diamond engagement rings were rare in the early 1800's. If a young woman was lucky enough to receive one, she could check to see if the gem was real by making scratch marks with it on glass. Visitors can still see these etchings on several of the house's window panes.

Visitors can tour this charming city by either walking or driving. There's a map of the mile-and-a-half route that will guide you through the historic district and downtown areas. In town, you can shop at any of the 200 antique vendors and specialty stores, dine at one of the dozen downtown restaurants, or stay at one of the local bed and breakfasts, or luxury inns.

Madison's Welcome Center is located on the square at 115 E. Jefferson Street. Open every day until late afternoon. Call 800-709-7406 or visit Heritage Hall is open Monday through Saturday form 11 - 4, Sunday 1:30 - 4:30, available for private events.

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