The Founding Years
In 1807 Madisonville was founded on 40 acres of land donated by Daniel McGary and Solomon Silkwood. By 1810, Madisonville was a bustling home to 37 people. The little town was home to a tavern, three general stores, a cabinet shop, a blacksmith and a tanner. Growth was slow at first but by 1830 the town had grown to almost four times the population. With the growth in population came the growth in businesses and services. The Eagle Hotel was erected on the northeast corner of Main and Main Cross (Center) Streets sometime in the 1850s. The building was razed in 1906 to make way for the Farmers Bank and Trust Company.
In 1867 Madisonville’s skyscraper was erected. Originally built by R. J. Littlepage, the building became known as Pate’s Drug Store. It is now an attorney’s office.
The Evansville, Henderson and Nashville Railroad Company began construction of a railroad in the 1820s or 1830s. The interruption of the Civil War delayed completion until the 1870s. The erection of the passenger/freight station was completed in 1869. The coming of the railroad ushered in an era of hotels built to accommodate the travelers.
The first hotel built adjacent to the railroad and depot was the Shackleford, followed by the Willard. On south Main, with the rear backed up to the depot, the Belmont was erected. It was sold and became the Hotel Lucile. On December 25, 1906 the hotel was destroyed by fire.
The new building of Morton’s Bank was erected on North Main next door to the Littlepage building. The bank opened its doors at the new location in June 1898. The building was purchased by Hopkins County Bank in 1908. Farmers Bank and Trust Company purchased the building and moved in 1935. The bank remained in operation there until 1958.
In the early years, Madisonville suffered many disastrous fires. This resulted in several new buildings being erected after 1900. On the west side of south Main was the Kentucky Bank, McLeod building (Robards Drug and Dollar Brothers Shoes), the Woolworth 5 & 10 and the Dulin building (Hopkins County/Madisonville Public Library) and Utley Furniture (Bartholomew’s).
Buildings on east Center Street included Baker and Hickman Department Store, the Racket Store (later the Grand Leader), the Ross Store ( JC Penny), the Murphy Building, a new city hall that was built in late 1896 and the Hopkins County Jail was built in 1899.
On the southwest corner of south Main and west Center the building erected in 1902 housed the Kentucky Bank and Trust Company (now U. S. Bank). Through the years behind the bank on the south side of Center Street, there was Warriner’s Butcher Shop, Long’s Bakery, a barber shop, a saloon, a restaurant, Wathen’s Ten Cent Store and Dunkerson’s Grocery. In recent years there was Seibert’s Music, Galloway’s Café, Grand Central Shoe Shop. American Printing, Cameo Theater, Quality Café, Price Furniture, Johnston’s Cleaners and Buie’s Center Sales.
On the north side of west Center behind Pate’s Drug Store was a barber shop, a shoe repair shop, Kirkwood’s Drug Store, Sisk Book Store, Weiner Radio Store and next to the railroad was the Hopkins County Bank. In recent years there was Wilson’s Watch and Jewelry Shop. Next there was Jeanne’s Dress Shop, Morgan Men’s Wear, Moore’s Rexall Drug Store, Denton Hardware, Kerrick’s Fashion Mart, Dollar General Store and June’s Shoe Store next to the railroad.
From Pate’s Drug Store north was Morton’s Bank (Hopkins County Bank, later Farmers Bank), Jackson’s Barber Shop, Ruby’s Grocery, Waltrip’s Grocery, Heltsley and Thomas Grocery and in 1899 the new Hustler Building. In recent years we had Farmers Bank, a shoe shop, Adams Fruit Store, McGary Brothers Furniture, Ferrell’s Restaurant, Kroger’s Grocery, the Folly Restaurant and Hale Brothers Furniture.
On the east side of north Main behind Farmers Bank was the first location of Morton’s Bank with a real estate office next door. Next there were various stores which sold shoes, meats, plumbing, etc. In later years there was the Western Union office, Post Office, Ideal Café, Lynn’s Wallpaper, The Messenger and the Main Street Presbyterian Church.
When Madisonville was voted dry about 1912 there were 13 saloons in operation. When prohibition ended, Madisonville was again wet until 1942. By vote in 1992 Madisonville again became a wet town.