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The Madison Record
Finley Koswoski and Bailey Erickson pose in late 19th century-period dress in front of the one of the many historic locations in Madison.

Special event planned Saturday to unveil self-guided walking tour app of historic Madison

SPECIAL EVENT: Walking Tour of Historic Madison Smartphone App unveiling. Saturday, Nov 13, 1 pm, intersection of Martin and Garner Streets in downtown Madison. Visitors will be led on the Walk Historic Madison from location 1 to 42, ending on Main Street. Approximately 30 volunteers will be dressed in historic costumes along the route.  There will be a selfie station in front of Old Black Bear. Click here to download the app to your phone:  https://www.facebook.com/WalkingTourofHistoricMadison

 

MADISON – With the influx of varying job opportunities in the greater Huntsville area, Madison has become a kind of cosmopolitan place to call home. A small number of residents can say they were born and in raised in Madison. Most know and love the city for what it has come to be today, with it’s ever-increasing growth bringing both rewards and challenges. What has been easily lost in the mix is Madison’s past — and what a past she has.

A local Girl Scout and a group of volunteer organizations are teaming up to ensure tales of how Madison came to be, and the people who shaped it into a place once known as Madison Station, are preserved and easily accessible.
Finley Koswoski, a member of the Girl Scouts of North Alabama, has been working hard to complete an app allowing visitors to the city’s historic downtown district to take a self-guided walking tour while reading or listening to the interesting tales from the past that are ties to specific locations along the walk.

“The Walking Tour of Historic Madison Smartphone App is a joint project with the Rotary Club of Madison-Sunset Group, the Madison Visionary Partners, the Madison Station Historical Preservation Society, and the Girl Scouts of North Alabama,” stated Bailey Erickson, who inspired Finley to take on the project for her Girl Scout Gold Award. “It was developed to showcase the historic and business district of downtown Madison for visitors and citizens alike.”

Erickson, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Madison and Madison Visionary Partners, helped organize an event two years ago called Volksmarch of Madison. It included a leisurely 5k stroll into the heart of downtown, meandering through streets lined with beautiful old homes that once belonged to the area’s early residents. The day was filled with stories of Madison’s past as volunteer actors stationed at various points in front of the historic houses and landmarks weaved a fascinating tale of the town’s early days and the families who lived here.

“The app will do the same thing as visitors make their way through our beautiful downtown area,” Erickson said. “Except now, it will not only be available for special occasions, but any time someone wants to learn and experience our unique history for themselves.”

It will be filled with interesting tales, like those of James Clemens, the founder of Madison and namesake for James Clemens High School, and that of Doc Hughes, another founding father of Madison, that brought the people of the early 1800s to life for a generation accustomed to booming construction and rapid city growth.

“My favorite story I have learned from Madison’s past is from Buttermilk Alley (a small street that runs from Arnett Street to Front Street) and how it got its name from a lady who fed cornbread and buttermilk to hobos who jumped off of the train in Madison looking for food,” said Finley.

Finley said she has been working on the project since July. When it is ready to unveil, she will have around 100 hours invested into it. She has been creating historical summaries, recording people addressing each historic location, and is helping unveil the app to the city. The recordings will be uploaded to a Pocketsights app, which will guide visitors from one point of interest to the next using GPS.

The Rotary Club of Madison and the Girl Scouts of North Alabama are also working with Madison City Schools to use the tour as an ongoing learning tool for students in the area.

Dave Junghans and JD Phillips with the Rotary Club of Madison-Sunset Group have been working on the smartphone application. John Rankin, Billie Goodson and Debbie Overcash of the Madison Station Historical Preservation Society provided local historical information, which the app will refer to. When the app is unveiled, the Girl Scouts of North Alabama will dress in historic costumes made by Cynthia Curtis, Rotary Club of Madison.
Erickson said the app will “go live” from 1-2:30 p.m. on November 13.

“On that same day, Girls Scout leader Ashley Creekmore and her Girl Scouts will be dressed in historic costume at approximately 25 of the historic locations along the route,” Erickson said. “The unveiling of the app will coincide with the unveiling of the completed renovation of the historic Madison Roundhouse on Front Street.”

The event is free to the public. Go to www.facebook.com/WalkingTourofHistoricMadison for more information.

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