Madison, Georgia, is often mentioned as the prototypical small Southern town. It has all the ingredients one might think of when conjuring up a happy image of an Old South town in modern America—white-columned houses on tree-shaded streets; colorful gardens behind neat wood fences; handsome public buildings around a vibrant town square; historic churches filled with vital congregations; and a surrounding countryside of rolling hills and working farms. Founded in 1809, Madison has seen inevitable changes over the past 200 years, but although it is only minutes from a busy interstate highway and barely an hour from Atlanta (the largest, most aggressively ambitious city in the South), this town of only 4,400 people seems serenely removed from the pace, pressures, and distractions of a twenty-first-century world.
Madison: A Classic Southern Town, describes in images and words how the place has retained a respect for its past and planned for a progressive future while somehow maintaining a comfort, civility, and appearance sometimes identified with the idyllic notion of "the good old days."
Madison is in Morgan, one of the prettiest of Georgia's 159 counties, and the seat and its county possess many visual clues to their success in combining romanticism with reality. Photographs throughout the book convey the idea that Madison is genuine—not fussy. It is active without seeming busy, and it is lovely without being self-conscious or preening. The town lanes and country roads, ancient outbuildings and respectful infill, small details and grand old mansions all subtly reinforce the feeling that this is indeed a special place. Illustrations range from bold, double-page spreads to small accent images and are placed within a rhythmic design intended to be classic but not static. Text, captions, and titles have been integrated with illustrations to encourage an orderly, easy-to-follow appreciation of the book and its message. Bill Mitchell's text is crucial to the lasting value and ultimate integrity of this celebratory effort. This is, after all, a historical document—a 200-year time capsule— and a debt is owed those who have built Madison and those who will follow. Madison: A Classic Southern Town is a book worthy of its subject. It is a collaborative effort of award-winning authors and photographers and a group of Madisonians dedicated to their little town.
A foreword by author Philip Lee Williams contributes first-hand insight into the town of his childhood and the place where his father still occupies a vital role in its day-to-day life.
Bill Mitchell's introduction and text enliven the history of Madison and its town plan, architecture, culture, congregations, and citizenry. An architectural timeline, illustrated with archival and contemporary images and punctuated with contemporaneous quotes and observations, provides a historical context of Madison and Morgan County.
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