Ohio Theater

Ohio Theater
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

I made this photo on an impromptu road trip early in 2008, one I took to help me recover from a particularly stressful time. I drove the two 1830s roads that connected Indianapolis to the Ohio River at Madison: the Madison State Road (to Madison) and the Michigan Road (back to Indianapolis). It was my first trip along both roads.

I’d never been to Madison before and I was blown away by how lovely it was. The streets of the old city were lined with very old homes and commercial buildings, some of the oldest I’ve seen anywhere in Indiana — and most of them had been either well maintained or restored.

Built in 1938, the Ohio Theater is a young building on Madison’s historic main street. On the day I visited it still showed first-run movies. But in 2016 the theater’s owners lost the building in foreclosure, and ownership passed to a nonprofit which occasionally shows old films and recently got a grant to determine what it would take to renovate this building.

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Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Ohio Theater

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Madison, IN

Downtown Madison, Indiana
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

Yesterday I mentioned the Madison State Road, an 1830s highway connecting Indianapolis to Madison on the Ohio River. It was one of two such highways, the other being the Michigan Road. Indiana’s first railroad was built between the two cities, as well.

Madison was, in those days, Indiana’s largest city. It competed as a port city with Cincinnati and Louisville and was probably equally important to those cities then. So it’s small wonder there were so many ways to get to the state’s capital.

But times change, and after the Civil War Cincinnati and Louisville surged in ways Madison did not. It has had the effect of freezing Madison in time. Its streets are lined with buildings built through the 19th century, and most of them have been well preserved. It is a lovely town and well worth visiting.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Downtown Madison, Indiana

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Preservation, Road Trips

Burned Elks Lodge in Madison, Indiana, sees first hope for restoration in 11 years

Eleven years is a mighty long time for a burned-out building to stand — especially in Madison, Indiana, which is well known for preserving its historic architecture. Yet the 1904 Elks lodge has stood virtually untouched for years after a 2006 arson gutted it. Here’s what it looked like when I first saw it in 2008:

Burned BPOE

It stands on West Street, just three blocks north of where the historic Michigan Road begins and a block north of Madison’s beautiful and historic main street. Things were little changed when I visited again a year later:

BPOE

I haven’t been to Madison in a few years, but a check of Google Street View (here) reveals that a little work has been done on the building, including putting on a roof. And now Indiana Landmarks reports (here) that a Madison couple is interested in rebuilding the lodge to be luxury apartments. Here’s hoping they see their project through. Maybe next time I visit, I’ll come back with cheerier photos to share of this great old building!

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