Historic Structures

Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Company Train Station, Madison Indiana

Date added: August 18, 2017 Categories: Indiana Train Station

This yellow brick passenger station was built 1894 and originally housed a telegraph and small freight office. The exterior design is relatively plain and functional though the complementary octagonal and rectangular forms reflect Queen Anne stylistic influences. The rail office closed in 1930 and the station was adapted for reuse as a business office.

The Railway Station is associated with the famous railroad cut through solid limestone in 1835. An engineering feat for that day, the excavation enabled trains to reach Madison by descending 400 feet in a mile's distance. Two trains passed through daily. In 1839 the state let the first contract to a private firm, a line from Madison to Indianapolis, but the road was built slowly as public opinion was apathetic to the coming of the privately owned iron horse. By the early 1850s railroad transport had grown into a huge economic resource for the state, and Madison in particular, linking Indiana to the booming industrial East and breaking their long dependence upon the Southern economy.

When, in the 1850s, the major rail lines moved northward, passing through Indianapolis, Madison's importance as a rail city declined, falling into an economic depression. The Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, however, re-established Madison as a prospering railroad town, connecting the city with the larger cities in the west, north and east. With this new rail connection came a renewal of Madison's industrial and economic strength after 1895. This prosperity continued until the late 1920s.

The Railroad Company sold the station to Wilson Development Company in 1932.

The Madison "Daily Courier" of June 3, 1893 reported that a "new passenger station, costing between $l8,000-$20,000" would be built by the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Company "on property of Captain Silas Q. Hove and others lying on First Street between Vine and Mill. The station was to be built "upon the grant of a right-of-way to the station from the west corporation line of the city." The right of way was granted by the city on July 21, 1893 and noted in the "Daily Courier" of that date that the station was "to "be built of stone or brick within the next eighteen months."

This one-story yellow brick structure measures twenty-four feet by fifty feet. The lowpitched veranda roof, supported by turned wooden posts, encompasses the entire building, splaying outward from the gable ridge at the west end and the second level walls of the octagon at the east end. The design of this octagonal shaped passenger waiting room is in keeping with the basic plan set out by Orson Fowler for his octagon house in the 1850s. This section, nearly twenty feet in height, breaks through the main one-story roof, rising two full stories. Above the roof line, clerestory windows are fixed into each of the eight sides. The low-pitched octagonal roof extends beyond the main wall to form wide eaves supported by thin, plain brackets, and is crowned by an umbrella shaped finial. Each face of the waiting room on the lower level has an opening, either window or door. The west end was originally used as a storeroom for light freight. A projecting three-sided bay window on the north facade housed the telegraph operator's office.

The interior ceiling has deep panels imitating a grid of boxed beams. A strip of colored glass originally bordered each clerestory window. The trim and many surfaces were of varnished wood, including the wainscot of vertical beaded boards. Classical figures, apparently stamped in wood, ornament the frieze on the upper portion of the wall.