Presbyterians came together in Madison, first meeting at the original courthouse building which was begun in 1810, and later at the Madison Male Academy which was built in 1818.
The courthouse was in the center of town and faced the main street. The Male Academy was on a street that is known as Academy Street today. Worship services were led by various local spiritual leaders and men who had previously been ordained as Elders in other Presbyterian churches.
By 1818, various ministers from outside of Madison were invited to preach. By 1821, this group of Madison Presbyterians was known and recorded in the church records at Montreat, now housed in the Archives at Columbia Seminary, in Decatur, Ga.
Local Presbyterians continued to meet regularly in the Madison Male Academy and the courthouse. In the beginning, they invited traveling ministers and gifted Christian speakers to lead the worship service, and later their own Supply Ministers gave the lesson or sermon.
As the town of Madison and Morgan County continued to grow, so did the desire to build official houses of worship. By 1830 the population of Morgan County was already over 12,000 and the slave population was almost 7,000. On Feb. 14, 1825, the Inferior Court of Morgan County granted an acre of land to the Presbyterian Church which was given free of charge.
The county hired Robert Crawley, County Surveyor, to lay out lots for homes and churches in the area beyond the city square. In 1837, an entire city block — today bordered by Academy Street, Kolb Street, Porter Street and 4th Street — was to house the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches. The only church to actually build at that location was the Methodist Church with its front door facing Academy Street. (Today it is Advent Episcopal Church.)
Eventually, Madison Presbyterian Church did construct a building of their own on a different parcel of land. The Southern Miscellany newspaper had this to say about the new building on May 28, 1842:
“The new Presbyterian Church which has just been completed is one of the most beautiful specimens of architecture we have ever seen. It is a small edifice, but in its model, and the neatness and elegance of its finish, it is as near our idea of perfection as a building could be made. The thanks of the denomination, for whose especial use it has been erected, as well as our whole community, are due to the Trustees and those who have aided them in furnishing so tasteful and convenient a house of worship and so beautiful an ornament to our town.”
A week later the local newspaper added, “On Sunday last the dedication services were held at this church, and the Rev. Francis Bowman delivered an excellent discourse to a very crowded house. We hope the virtues of the Church who worship there may be as bright as the architecture of their building is beautiful.”
Almost 160 years later Madison Presbyterian Church continues to worship in the same building and believe it to be just as beautiful now as it was described all those years ago.