Go To Search
Find Us on
Blog module icon

All Blog

Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

May 04

Blocking pesky rumors... with window screens!

Posted to Heard On The Street by Ken Kocher

This was a fun one, a gentleman came in the other day and asked if it were true that houses in the Historic District are not allowed to have screens on their windows. screens.JPG


The answer, of course, that this is NOT a restriction. In truth, window screens have been around since the mid-nineteenth century, though were not widespread until the mid-twentieth century. Bonar Hall, in Madison, has window screens that date to the turn of the twentieth century. For a few years in the 1920s, Farmers Hardware would advertise via a simple country character named Ezra Hawkins who would write a letter to someone in Morgan County and talk up items at the store. See a snippet of a letter to J.A. Nolan promoting window screens. No matter the history of window screens, they are a good idea!


Turns out that this particular tall tale seems to have originated from a spousal disagreement where one half of the household did not care for the look of window screens and was wielding the HPC as a sword to curtail their use! Oh well. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time!

Mar 26

It’s a booth, It’s a hut, IT’S A SHACK!

Posted to Madison Moments by Ken Kocher

police shack

Yep, perched on the corner of the square at Main and Jefferson Streets sat Madison’s police observation booth like some sort of hall monitor. These small stations appear to have been common in county seats in this area with both Eatonton and Monticello having similar structures. The construction date is unclear. The first mention of the police shack in the newspaper is in 1956. This leads us to believe that it arrived shortly after the Confederate Monument was moved to Hill Park in 1955 since it occupied roughly the same spot.

Madisonians who remember the police shack recall it with fond memories especially the checkerboard with bottle caps for the pieces. Yet, at the time, it would seem that the shack was held in less than high esteem by some. A booklet published by the Madison Planning Commission in 1961 recommended improving the looks of the shack. When UGA landscape architecture students studied the town in 1964 and wrote Madison, A Visual Survey and Civic Design Study, their description began by juxtaposition of good and bad elements. You can guess on which side the police shack fell.

The following year a Community Development Committee comprised of civic leaders and representatives from sixteen clubs listed removal of the police police towershack as one of its top ten urgent projects. In 1967, The Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee and the Madison Civic Design Committee engaged architect Henry Toombs to assess the situation. Evidently, City police and members of the City Council told the architect that it was imperative that they have a central structure for observation purposes. Mr. Toombs created a sketch of a Gazebo type structure to replace the shack.  Mr. Toombs said that “a building like that shown in [his} drawing would be a decided improvement for beautification purposes.” 

Unfortunately, the committees on beautification had no funds to build the structure. They hoped that the money could be raised through private gifts. The estimated cost of the Police Tower (yes, that’s what they were calling it – it does sound better than “shack”), including copper dome, was $4,800. That’s $34,500 in 2016 dollars. Not surprisingly, no benefactor came forward.

police shackFor two years the committees pushed for the project, but the best they could achieve was to paint the existing shack and give it window boxes of flowers. Finally, Mayor Luke Allgood and members of the City Council ended 10 years of complaints about the shack, voting in July 1971 to remove the hut. It was moved to a location on the City Water Works property. Rumor has it that the shack is now somewhere near Rutledge.

police shack move

Madison Moments, a weekly blog highlighting Madison's rich history, is a creation of the Madison Historic Preservation Commission in collaboration with other City Boards and Departments. This installment was contributed by the Historic Preservation Commission and written by Ken Kocher, HPC staff. This volunteer board protects the community's wealth of historic resources - most notably the Madison Historic District, first listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.