Origins of the Madison Historical Society

MISSION STATEMENT

  • To educate the citizens of Madison about the historic value of the community and encourage its preservation.
  • To collect and maintain an archive and make it available for public use.
  • To record historically relevant Madison public events.

The Madison Historical Society was founded in 1922 by a group of very civic-minded citizens committed to saving one of the most historic structures in Madison, the Bottle Hill Tavern, that stood on the corner of Main St. and Waverly Place where the Chase Bank now stands. In 1819, Colonel Stephen D. Hunting of the Morris County Militia purchased the original site of the tavern and an inn or tavern was erected on the site and known through the years as the Waverly House, the Madison House, and the Bottle Hill Tavern. It long served as a stop for Paulus Hook, Newark, Springfield, Chatham, and Bottle Hill to Morristown. In 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette visited the Tavern. Lafayette was a French military officer who served under George Washington in the Continental Army and was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine. During the French Revolution he served as a leader of the Garde Nationale.

In 1922 the First National Bank purchased the site for a new building and intended to tear down the old tavern. Led by Mrs. Calvin Anderson, Mrs. Anderson Case, Mrs. Fitshugh C. Speer, Lloyd W. Smith and Arthur W. Buttenheim, a successful fundraising effort was completed to pay for the cost of moving the Tavern to a location further down Main Street. After the move took place in 1923, it became the home for the Historical Society until the late 1940s when the Society moved to the Madison Public Library that now houses the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts.

In the late 1950s the historical collection of the Society was for a time homeless and had to be dispersed. Some items went into storage, many were put on permanent loan in local museums and some returned to their donors. Meetings were held in the YMCA. Currently the Historical Society is housed in The Local History Center at the Madison Public Library.

The Historical Society originally comprised twenty-three charter members but within a year rapidly grew to eighty-two, twenty seven of whom were life members. Today, the Society has well over 150 members.