Madison’s ‘Central Park’ in the works


The grounds of the Montgomery House right off Main Street will be the future “Madison Central Park” once the Madison Station Botanical Garden is complete, Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler declared last week at a groundbreaking ceremony.

“These grounds are special. The original owners of the Montgomery House have owned this property for five generations, and when we heard there was a possibility it would be sold with the land, my heart skipped a beat,” Hawkins-Butler said during a groundbreaking event last week. 

“We bought the land with approval from the Board of Alderman, and we look forward to citizens being able to enjoy the garden.” 

Hawkins-Butler, aldermen, State Rep. Jill Ford, and project sponsor America in Bloom representatives Laura Kunkle and Marvin Miller were present for the ceremony on April 21. Representatives of the Canadian National Railway, also a sponsor of the project, could not be present due to a corporate travel ban.

Hawkins-Butler said the garden project was just the beginning for the Montgomery House, and she is looking forward to people walking the grounds and children learning about the many types of plants that will be featured there. 

“There’s something so special about the Montgomery House, and it’s the perfect place for Madison’s central park,” Hawkins-Butler said. 

Miriam Ethridge, code enforcement officer for the City of Madison, said the Montgomery House grounds are perfect for a garden. 

“I want to thank the Board of Alderman and the Mayor for letting me pursue this dream,” Etheridge said. “I also thank Canadian National Railroad and America in Bloom for allowing a great jumpstart to this.”  

Ethridge applied for a $25,000 grant from America in Bloom, and the City of Madison matched that with another $25,000, jumpstarting the project with $50,000. 

America in Bloom Executive Director Laura Kunkle said she felt something special when she arrived in Madison. 

“We encourage communities to use flowers, plants, trees and other environmental enhancements. That sounds a lot like what we’re seeing in Madison,” Kunkle said. “America in Bloom envisioned communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places to live, work and play, which we also see in Madison.”

Kunkle said the power and spirit of community involvement are both represented in Madison, and the city is doing things right. 

“Everything that is being worked on here shows the residents and visitors that this city cares,” she said. “Turning the Montgomery House into an oasis encourages the people in this city and visitors to stroll through here and take in the scenery.” 

Marvin Miller, former president and current treasurer of America in Bloom, said the garden is not only going to be a benefit to the community but will also be an environmental benefit. 

“Everyone knows plants are pretty, but they have a lot more to offer than that,” Miller said. “One of the biggest benefits is that they create oxygen. They’re doing that job, whether you know they’re around or not.” 

The Madison Station Botanical Garden is estimated to reach completion within the next two or three years. Contact the City of Madison for more information at 601-856-7116.

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