The first meetinghouse in Madison was erected in 1705, on the southeast section of the town green. It had neither a bell nor a steeple and galleries were only added in 1715. A new meetinghouse was dedicated in May 1743, to which a steeple was added in 1799. The present First Congregational Church was built in the Federal style on the north part of the green in 1837-1838. As described in A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County, Volume 1 (1918), by Everett G. Hill:
When the people built for the third time in 1838, they had the common struggle to break away from the green. There was a strong party that favored building on Deacon Hart’s lot north of the green, but so resolute was the minority that forty-seven members actually withdrew from the church in 1841, because of the change. The commanding site north of the green was chosen, and it and the building placed thereon have ever since been the pride of the people of Madison, the delight of all who visit the town. It is a building of notable architecture, acknowledged by all good judges to be one of the finest country churches of its type in New England. A handsome modern chapel was added to its equipment, on a plot just east of the green, in 1881.
The house at 542 Boston Post Road in Madison was built in 1789. It has a later three sided oriel window, which was added to the second story on the east side of the front facade. The house was the residence of Rev. John Elliott, who the third minister of Madison’s Congregational Church. As related by Rev. James A. Gallup in the Historical Discourse Delivered on the One Hundred and Seventieth Anniversary of the Formation of the First Congregational Church, Madison, Conn., November 18, 1877 (1878):
Rev. John Elliott, D.D., the third pastor of this church, was born in Killingworth (now Clinton), August 24, 1768. He was the son of Deacon George Elliott, and grandson of the Rev. Jared Elliott, M.D., of Killingworth (now Clinton), and great-grandson of Rev. Joseph Elliott, of Guilford, who was the son of the Rev. John Elliott, of Roxbury, well known as the Apostle to the Indians. He fitted for college in his native town, under the instruction of the Rev. Mr. Mansfield, his pastor, and entered Yale College in 1782. He took a high rank as a scholar, and graduated with honor in 1786. He devoted several years to teaching and the study of theology. He preached his first sermon July 11th, 1790, in Rev. Mr. Todd’s pulpit in East Guilford. During the last year of Mr. Todd’s ministry he was much of the time unable to preach, and, at his request, Mr. Elliott was employed by the society to preach for him. After Mr. Todd’s death the pulpit was supplied for a time by the neighboring ministers.
In November of 1791, Rev. Elliott was settled as the church’s new minister. He served until his death, on December 17, 1824. Quoting again from Rev. Gallup:
He was but twenty-three years of age at the time of his ordination. He is described as remarkably sedate, dignified and solemn in manner, judicious and exemplary in conduct, precise in speech, and methodical in all his movements. He was tall, slender, and erect in form, and wore always the cocked hat, short breeches, long waistcoat and stockings, and buckled shoes of the gentlemen of the ancient time. As he is remembered by some who hear me this morning, in the latter part of his life his head was bald and his hair white. His measured step and grave bearing, both out of the pulpit and in it, made him seem to his people the very embodiment of reverence.
[. . . .] Dr. Elliott was married November 3, 1792, to Sarah Norton, daughter of Lot Norton, of Salisbury, Conn. They had no children. His wife survived him, and afterwards removed to Salisbury. She was subsequently married to Gen. Sterling.
She married General Elisha Sterling of Salisbury in 1830 and died in 1841.
A subscription library in East Guilford (now Madison), called the “Farmers’ Library,” had existed from 1792 until the 1860s. A new Madison Library Association was formed in 1878. The library’s collection was housed in various places in town until it was lost in a fire in 1895. Eighteen books survived (those checked out at the time of the fire) and the Library Association soon resumed operations. A permanent home for the library was built at 801 Boston Post Road on the corner of Wall Street in Madison in 1900 by Miss Mary Eliza Scranton, who offered the fully furnished building to the town. The library was designed by Henry Bacon, later the architect of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1901, the Library Association was dissolved and the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library was incorporated.
One of Connecticut’s oldest surviving houses is the Meigs-Bishop House, at 45 Wall Street in Madison. It is Madison’s second oldest house after the 1685 Deacon John Grave House. The Meigs-Bishop House was built in 1690 by Janna Meigs on land he had received from his father, Deacon John Meigs. As related in the Record of the Descendants of Vincent Meigs: Who Came from Dorsetchire, England, to America about 1635 (1901), by Henry B. Meigs:
Capt. Janna was evidently a man of education, as the importance of the many offices he filled would indicate; was deacon in the church; represented his district in the legislature of the Colony of Connecticut in 1716-’17-’18 and 1726; and was Justice of the Peace for New Haven Colony, annually from 1722 to 1733 inclusive, a position of greater importance then than now. In military life he was Captain of a Company in the Queen Ann wars.
He left the house to his son, Lt. Janna Meigs, who deeded it to his first cousin, Capt. Phineas Meigs. After serving in the Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1780, Capt. Meigs retired from the army and was named captain of the Guilford militia. On May 19, 1782, three British frigates tried to capture an American schooner that had run aground on a sand bar. Capt. Meigs set out from his Wall street home leading his men to battle British soldiers who had landed on shore. In the ensuing fight, Capt. Meigs was shot through the head. He is believed to be the last New Englander to be killed in an action against the British in the Revolutionary War. The green wool round hat he was wearing that night survives and is in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. It bears the entry and exit holes of the musket ball that killed Capt. Meigs.
Later owned by the Bishop family, the house has most recently been used for a succession of businesses.
The Abraham Scranton House, a Colonial saltbox at 548 Boston Post Road in Madison, opposite the Green, may have been built in 1703, 1720 or 1750. The latter date is when it came into the Scranton family.
The Jonathan Trumbull Lee House is a Greek Revival-style residence built in 1828. It is located at 534 Boston Post Road, across from the Green in Madison. The house has a barn, inside of which is a beam with the words “Built April 13, 1871″ painted on it.
Lee Academy was built as a schoolhouse in 1821, at the corner of the Boston Post Road and Neck Road in Madison. It was named for Captain Frederick Lee, who had led the effort to establish a private college preparatory school in town, and the new building was constructed across the street from his own house. Capt. Lee had also been the one to propose Madison as a name for the new town in 1826. Although built with a proviso that it would never be moved, the school building has been relocated several times: in 1836 to the western end of the town Green; in 1839 (when it began to serve as a district school, continuing to accommodate the preparatory school as well until 1884) to a plot across from the Green’s northeast corner; in 1896 (making way for the construction of Memorial Hall) to a location behind the Hand Academy. In 1923, the Madison Historical Society began to manage the building, which was moved, for the last time, to its present location, facing west toward the Green. Having housed a number of organizations and businesses over the years, Lee Academy is now used as a museum and as offices for the Historical Society.