History of Madison Township
Once called, the Garden spot of Franklin County, Madison Township is located in the southeast corner of the county, sharing borders with Fairfield and Pickaway counties. Madison Township was formed on March 4, 1810 and named for our nation’s fourth president, James Madison.
Since its inception, the township’s form of government has been three trustees and a clerk (now called a fiscal officer). The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) deems how a township may operate. Elected officials’ salaries are based on the township budget, per the ORC. In 1994, the Board of Trustees created the position of administrator to help oversee the daily operations. Madison Township was originally the largest township geographically in Franklin County. Its fertile soil and many waterways, along with four major creeks - Big Walnut, Blacklick, Alum and Little Walnut, encouraged farming and other related agricultural enterprises.
In 1876, the township and Groveport joined together with the Masons and the Odd Fellows to build a three story Town Hall at the corner of Main and Front streets in Groveport, on donated land, at a cost of $10,745. The Town Hall showed the world the community was civilized with a theater/auditorium housed on the second floor. The third floor held meeting rooms and was later home of the administrative offices of the township. When built, the first floor held government offices in the rear and a grocery & hardware store up front until the 1960s. The village of Groveport became owner of the Town Hall in 1996 when the township complex on Hamilton Road was completed, and the offices were moved.
Transportation was key to the township’s growth. In the 19th century, the Ohio and Erie Canal provided agricultural and commercial shipping as well as passenger service. The railroad came to the area in 1868, further expanding shipping and travel opportunities. In 1904, the first electric traction line (interurban railway) ran from Columbus to Canal Winchester and was capable of speeds up to 60 mph, making the trip between Groveport and Canal Winchester within five minutes.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Madison Township remained primarily an agricultural area, with the towns of Groveport and Canal Winchester being the main areas of residential and commercial growth. However, following World War II, the nation’s population boom and resulting residential growth led to the building of large residential subdivisions, which sprouted in lands that were once large farms in the township. As the township’s population expanded, the need for township services - such as roads, fire, and police - also grew.
There were three community volunteer fire departments. Groveport station was located on College Street and later became known as Station 181. The Canal Winchester station (known as Station 182) started out in a building behind 36 S. High Street, then later moved to 36 S. High Street, which now houses the Canal Winchester City Offices. Station 183, on Floyd Drive in Edgewater Park, was closed when Station 181 was opened on South Hamilton Road. In 2015, the voters approved a new levy that allowed a new fire station to be built on Noe Bixby - land that was acquired through the Franklin County Land Bank due to tax delinquencies on apartments at this location. The new Station 183 was opened the summer of 2018 and currently houses a medic.
Through the years, the volunteer departments came under the umbrella of the Madison Township Fire Department. In 1985, the new Station 181 was built and still stands at Fire House Lane and South Hamilton Road. The stations on College Street and Floyd Driver were closed and their equipment moved to new locations.
In 1996, Canal Winchester's new Station 182 opened on Gender Road. A township police force was created in 1972, based out of the College Street Fire Department. In 1995, the Police Department moved into their new building on Madison Lane. Also in 1995, the road building was added to the complex, and finally in 1996, the administration building finished out the complex. In 2014, the road building was renamed The Spangler Public Works Building in honor Terry Spangler who served 1989-2013 and in memory of his father, Paul, who served the township between 1980-1993.
The township has five cemeteries, which are closed (no longer accepting burials). They also maintain the Middletown Cemetery on Gender Road and the Mennonite cemetery in Columbus along Gender Road near Lehman Road. Today, the towns of Groveport and Canal Winchester are small cities while Madison Township itself is a mix of dense residential areas, commercial properties, park lands, and true to its pioneer origins, farms.