By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Wardlaw-Smith-Goza Conference Center sits in the heart of Madison at 121 NW Marion Street. This mansion was the dream of Benjamin F. Wardlaw of Madison. Wardlaw held high prestige in Madison and wanted only the best to build his dream. He then hired William Archer Hammerly from Baltimore, Md. His dream became a reality in 1860.
Since 1860, the mansion made conference center has had multiple owners. A. Marshall Cason owned the mansion from 1863-1867 followed by Elizabeth T. Glover 1867-1871. Chandler Holmes Smith, followed by other members of the Smith family, owned it from 1871-1978. Mr. and Mrs. William M. Goza were the owners from 1978-1982. In 1988, the property was purchased by North Florida Community College, and to this day remains in their care. The mansion now serves as a conference center for six counties that the college serves.
In Madison, the history of the mansion is one of both tall tales and facts. Some facts include that the mansion served as a hospital following the Battle of Olustee during the Civil War. This battle was fought on February 20, 1864, not far east of Madison. It is also rumored that following the fall of the Confederacy, Gen. John C. Breckinridge, during his run to Key West, spent an evening at the mansion.
NFCC’s website describes the mansion as a “two-story, square structure made of heart pine that has many beautiful and interesting features, such as original window panes and shutters; 20 fluted columns of the Doric order; African mahogany, freestanding stairway; heart pine flooring put together with wooden pegs; expansive hallways; and original bookshelves in the library.
“A four-foot garden wall enclosing the property was added in 1980, along with a fountain and an Italian pergola. These fixtures were typical to the Southern landscape in the 1800’s, when the classical style of architecture was popular. They are complemented by azaleas, camellias, boxwood, magnolia and wisteria. The old live oak tree on the north entrance pre-dates the house.”
Renovations for the mansion were most recently made in the summer and fall of 2000. These renovations are listed on their website and include: “Replacing and reframing the porch floor base, reinforcing the foundation, adding new piers for support, column repair and new paint for the exterior and interior walls.” There was also an addition of a wheelchair ramp.
The Wardlaw-Smith-Goza Conference Center is listed in the Historic American Building Survey and the National Register of Historic Places. It remains in use today and can be rented out for weddings, meetings and parties. For all day rentals, prices are as follows: First floor and kitchen, $620.75; First floor, kitchen and grounds, $720.75 and just the grounds and kitchen are $310.75. For meetings lasting 2-3 hours, with 50 people or less, a person can rent the first floor and the kitchen for $435.75.
In 2010, Wardlaw-Smith-Goza celebrated its 150th Anniversary. Each year the mansion hosts the annual Quilt and Flower Show, as well as a Christmas Open House. Anyone who is interested can become a “Friend of the Mansion” by making a small donation. Individuals or families are $35; a Sponsor is $150; a Patron is $200; a Business is $500; or a Benefactor is $1,000. According to the NFCC website, “Your membership support helps to preserve the beautiful historic house we all lovingly call the “Mansion.” It also allows us to keep the Mansion open and available for wonderful events that fill its halls during the year. Join today — your support is more important than ever in helping us continue our community activities such as the annual Quilt and Flower Show and Christmas Open House.”
All photos Submitted
Archive for History
By Kristin Finney
By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
With help from Jean McWilliams
Many years ago, 176 to be exact, two men began what was known then as Hickstown Baptist Church. Presently this church is known as the First Baptist Church of Madison and it stands as a monument of the history of Madison County.
The two men responsible for this historic church were Alexander Mosley and Richard Johnson Mays. The church was named after an Indian Chief Tokose Emathala; his English name was John Hicks, in honor of his kindness to the white settlers. The Indian chief was driven out of Leon County and came to an area between Madison and Greenville, which became known as Hickstown. Hickstown Baptist was founded in 1835.
The earliest known pastor of Hickstown Baptist was W.B. Cooper in 1838. Cooper traveled to Florida from South Carolina in search of a cure for health problems. During Cooper’s term as pastor, Hickstown Baptist built their first formal meetinghouse. This occurred in 1840. Along with placing the formal meetinghouse, there was also a small cemetery built on the property. According the Jean McWilliams historical presentation on First Baptist and local legend, some of the gravesites would have been located under what is presently the baptistery, pulpit and choir area of the church.
When the county seat was moved to Madison the county commissioners decided that the three main Protestant denominations, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian, should be set aside their own full block. This block was and remains named Meeting Street. Though First Baptist is the only one of these churches that is still located on it’s original property.
Following the leave of W.B. Cooper, Elder Henry Z. Ardis became the pastor of Hickstown. He served as pastor from 1843-1867, the longest pastoral term in First Baptist history. It is also believed that, since his time served was during the Civil War, he along with many other members of the church probably aided wounded soldiers from the battle of Olustee. In 1850 the name of the church was changed to The Madison Baptist Church.
In 1895, Rev. Stephen Crockett came to Madison. It was during his time as pastor, in 1898, a beautiful and well-designed building replaced the older and simpler meetinghouse. Today this building is known as the 1898 Sanctuary. Also during his time as pastor church that membership grew over fifty percent, Madison Baptist Church hosted the annual Florida Baptist Convention and he also helped design the 1898 sanctuary.
In 1953, Pastor James T. Barber came to Madison Baptist Church and helped to lead to the building of the new 1956 Building. It was also during his time as pastor that the name was changed to First Baptist Church, Madison, Fla.
The history of the First Baptist church of Madison stretches on and on. Each beautiful stained glass window is in honor of families and individuals whom were important to the formation of the church. The 1898 Sanctuary still remains on the church’s property. Though, on multiple occasions there has been talk of selling or demolishing it. According to McWilliams’s studies, Disney World even thought about purchasing the building at one time.
But through the test of time, First Baptist Church of Madison remains a monument in the city of Madison. In the center of town, it is often referred to as The Heart of Madison. When one enters into the 1898 Sanctuary or even the 1956 present Sanctuary, they will be overcome by the history found within the walls. Every painting, piano, pew, crack in the pew and light has a story behind it. Everything within the walls of the First Baptist Church of Madison has some form of historical value.
By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Four Freedoms Park in Madison honors a rich historical time period and marks many different successes in not only Madison history, but also the history of the United States. The land that the Four Freedoms Park currently is located on, was once the blockhouse built to protect women, children and the elderly during the Second Seminole War. This war raged up and down the Florida peninsula from Tallahassee to Lake Okeechobee and all areas between. The land that the park now uses was also used as the informal courthouse until 1840.
In 1840, the land was donated to the City of Madison to be built into a park. The Four Freedoms Park is named after the Four Freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address. These freedoms are the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. There is a marker in the southwest corner of the park that honors these Four Freedoms as well.
In 1946, a monument was erected in the Four Freedoms Park in honor of the First Baptist Convention. The Florida Baptist Convention was founded on November 20, 1854. This historical moment occurred in the parlor of Richard John Mays, which was located near Madison. The monument in Four Freedoms Park was erected in honor of the creation of the Florida Baptist Convention.
There is also a monument honoring the former slaves of Madison County. In 1860, there were 4,249 slaves in Madison County. Madison was part of what was known as Florida’s “black belt,” which consisted of Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson and Madison Counties. These counties were the home of the vast majority of slaves. The monument that is seen in Four Freedoms Park was erected in 1996 to honor the “Former Slaves of Madison County.”
There is an open Bible on the west side of the park that was placed by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. This Bible is enclosed in a marble and class case. The WCTU was organized in 1874 and is the oldest continuing non-sectarian women’s organization in the world. The group was designed to “fight the influence of alcohol on families and society.”
In the center of the park, there is a tribute to “Our Confederate Soldiers,” placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This group is dedicated to honoring the memory of the servicemen who served the Confederate States of America. There are butterfly gardens surrounding the monument as well as the fountain in the park that were placed by the Madison Garden Club. There is also a large gazebo located in the park. There are large signs on the gazebo that say each of the four freedoms.
Click on the link to take you to the Feb. 3, 1961 Enterprise-Recorder
Almost any long-term resident of Madison has seen the Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Whether it was seen at a glance while playing on the old Madison Primary School playground, or in passing on your way to North Florida Community College, this cemetery is nearly as old as the community itself.
Oak Ridge Cemetery was founded in 1800. It is located on approximately 11 acres of land towards the center of the county, in the northern part of the city of Madison. Madison Livingston and Daniel G. Livingston donated the land to the city.
Oak Ridge Cemetery is the final resting place of hundreds of people. Buried in Oak Ridge are war heroes, soldiers, politicians, mothers, fathers and children.
World War II hero, Colin P. Kelly, Jr. is buried at Oak Ridge. The 23rd governor of Florida, Cary Augustus Hardee, was laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Daniel G. Livingston, benefactor of the land at Oak Ridge Cemetery, is also buried there.
There are multiple infants buried at Oak Ridge. Some were less than one day old when they passed away. There are monuments located throughout the cemetery, dedicated to family members and loved ones. John W. Jones, a Woodman of the World, was laid to rest at Oak Ridge. His tombstone resembles a stack of logs.
Willie L. Humphrey, W.P. Wheeler and John W. Jones, two more Woodman of the World, are also buried here. Their tombstones all resemble a tree stump.
William Archer Hammerly, the architect behind the Wardlaw-Smith Mansion, located in downtown Madison, is buried at Oak Ridge.
Paul and Golden Mosier are both buried in Oak Ridge. They were greyhound breeders. Their headstones are accentuated with a greyhound sculpture.
Also buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery are 31 Confederate soldiers who were killed at the Battle of Olustee. This was the largest battle in Florida during the American Civil War. There were 93 Confederate soldiers killed in this battle, a third of which are buried at Oak Ridge.
The Four Freedoms Monument stands tall in the center of the city of Madison. This monument is a collection of four angels, each representing a different freedom. The four freedoms represented are; the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These four freedoms were outlined in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address.
The statue was sculpted by Walter Russell at the end of 1941 and was dedicated in 1943. The dedication ceremony took place is Madison Square Garden in New York City. There were over 60,000 people present for the ceremony. The monument was dedicated in the memory of Colin P. Kelly, of Madison, Fl.
Colin P. Kelly was the first recognized American heroe of World War II. He was a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. He flew bombing runs against he Japanese navy during the Pearl Harbor attack. His plane was the first American B-17 to be shot down during combat. This shooting took place on December 10, 1941. Kelly’s plane fell under attack by Zeros from the Tainan Air Group, flown by the infamous Japanese pilot, Saburo Sakai. The plane was badly damaged and would not be able to fly much longer. Kelly remained at the controls in order to allow the crew members to bail out. As soon as they were free, Kelly and his co-pilot, Lt. Donald Robins, attempted to escape. Before they were able to escape, the plane exploded and ejected both of the men. Robins was able to open his parachute in time, however, Kelly was unable to open his chute. He fell to the ground and died on impact.
Colin P. Kelly was honored with several awards, memorials and works of art. He received a Distinguished Service Cross, after his death, for his “extraordinary heroism and selfless bravery.” During WWII the US Liberty ship SS Colin P. Kelly, Jr. was dedicated and named in his honor. He was also honored with the Four Freedoms Monument.
On June 14, 1944, the Four Freedoms Monument was moved from New York City and taken to the hometown of Colin P. Kelly. Governor Spessard Holland rededicated the monument in Kelly’s honor.
To this day it remains in his hometown of Madison, Fl.
January 17, 1941
Will Smith, who recently had his eye removed, is getting along nicely at this writing.
Mrs. B.M. Kent is announcing the marriage of her youngest daughter, Walter Belle, to Joseph A. Doyle, of Jersey City, N.J. The ceremony took place in Jacksonville on Saturday, Dec. 31.
Lee High School defeated Madison High School in two games of basketball at the local court Tuesday night. Lee girls won 53-9 and Lee boys won 15-10.
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Pinson spent Sunday visiting friends at Camp Blanding, Ga.
January 12, 1951
Mr. W.W. Dice reported this week that he saw a sight last week he had never seen before in his life: that of six rattlesnakes plowed up by Mr. Allan Sessions, who was breaking land on Mr. Tucker Bass’ place. Two were uncovered one day and four the next. They were sizeable snakes, having from six to 16 rattles each.
Jean and Margaret Gay accompanied their father to Moultrie, Ga. on Sunday.
Louise Brown had her tonsils removed during the holidays.
The Saturday double feature at the Woodard Theatre will feature Bill Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy in Silent Conflict and John Payne and Sonny Tufts in The Crooked Way.
January 13, 1961
The Beggs building, at the corner of Base and Range Streets, formerly known as Hancock Hotel and later Town Square Inn, has been sold by Mrs. W.E. Winter and Mrs. Ralph Reddick to Mr. and Mrs. O.J. McNeil. Final papers were to be negotiated this Thursday afternoon.
Edward B. Musser, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Musser, is now stationed in Little Rock, Ark. He graduated from Air Force Technical School in Amarillo, Texas, with a 97 percent average and was a candidate for the American Spirit of Honor Award.
Howard Studstill, Thed Fraleigh and Mellous Moore have spent about five weeks in Jacksonville on federal grand jury.
Rev. O’Neal McCullough left Friday for Miami, where he has been assigned to gospel work with Cuban refugees.
January 15, 1971
Bernard Wilson, Blalock Raines and W.B. “Jargo” Clark were recognized at Rotary for their perfect attendance during 1970.
Dr. Stanley Marshall, FSU president, will make a brief tour of the North Florida Junior College campus before he speaks at the Woman’s Club luncheon.
R.E. Cowart has been in Jacksonville this past week with his brother, Stanton, who is seriously ill.
Winn-Dixie price check: two dozen large eggs, 89 cents; roast, 47 cents a pound; eight cans of Campbell’s soup, $1; Saltine crackers, one pound box, 22 cents.