Street names read like history book

Streets in the Madison’s downtown historic district read like a chapter in a history book. Likewise, highways and roads around the town are named for city founders.

Arnett Street, a narrow street sandwiched between Front and College streets, has endured an identity crisis. At one time its name was Deloney Street, crediting resident Dr. Isaac Deloney.

Another name was Canal Street, possibly for a drainage ditch that flowed underground. The 1860 federal census listed two Arnett families: artist Charles A. Arnett and store clerk James Arnett. The Arnett families provided its current namesake but only after Arnett Street was first labeled an avenue.

Sturdivant Street honors Robert Lee Sturdivant. He was Madison’s first environmentalist mayor, walking around town and planting trees. His grandson James later served on Madison City Council. This charming street runs between Church Street and Hughes Road.

College Street was home to Madison Training School in 1908. The schoolhouse was moved from Church Street at the current location of North Alabama Gas Co. to the present site of Madison Elementary School. Other nearby schools included Madison Male and Female College near Pension Row and a school for African-American children.

A conflict exists for attribution of Maple Street, a wooded byway east of Madison United Methodist Church. The 1860 census listed two Maple families, railroad laborers, while legend attributes the abundance of maple trees populating the area.

Sullivan Street is the stretch of Wall-Triana Highway within Madison’s city limits. The street honors one of Madison’s first physicians, Dr. George Richard Sullivan. He served a brief stint in the Confederate Army, Co.1, 4th Ala. Calvary, Russell’s Regiment in Lincoln County, Tenn.

When the war ended, Sullivan returned to Madison, who needed his medical skills. Sullivan died in Decatur in 1935 and is buried in Madison City Cemetery’s old section on Mill Road.

At Madison’s east perimeter, Slaughter Road winds from Hwy. 20 to U.S. Hwy 72. Why name a road that sounds like an episode of “Criminal Minds”? Defying that connotation, Slaughter Road honors Dr. John R. Slaughter, a Confederate veteran who served in Co. 1, 4th Ala. Infantry.

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