Laid out in 1837, Madison Square was named in honor of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. It contains some of the most important and interesting buildings in the city.
At the center of Madison Square is a statue to memorialize Sgt. William Jasper, who was a solider during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. Jasper became a hero during the Revolutionary War. Thus, the area around Madison Square is known as Jasper Ward. In fact, some locals even refer to Madison Square as Jasper Square. Also of historic significance is the fact that Madison Square marks the southern limit of British defenses during the Revolutionary War.
Madison Square also commemorates the first two highways constructed in Georgia with two cannons on the southern edge of the square. The cannons came from the Savannah Armory. The significance of these cannons is that they mark the starting points of each of those highways, one leading to Darien and the other to Augusta.
Located on Bull between Harris and Charlton Streets, Madison Square is home to one of the city's great churches, St. John’s Episcopal Church. The church was designed by architect Calvin Otis. The building was completed in 1853.
Next to St. John’s Episcopal Church is the Green-Meldrim House, a place of historical significance. Also finished in 1853, the Green-Meldrim House incorporates ornate iron work. Designer John Norris insisted on distinctive oriel windows to allow more light into the home. The accents of the Green-Meldrim House are what set it apart, as some of the original furniture and mirrors still remain in the home. Though the unique features of the home make it one of the city's most attractive, its place in history is assured as it was once offered to General Williams Tecumseh Sherman as a residence and headquarters.
Another home of significance on Madison Square is the Sorrel-Weed House. Built in 1841, this Greek Revival style home was once one of the city’s largest and impressive mansions. The color of Sorrel-Weed House has caused some uproar with the preservationist movement in Savannah. During a restoration period, the Historic Savannah Foundation disagreed with the owner over choice of color. The owner eventually proved that the new color matched the original color of the house, thus ending the disagreement..
The Masonic Temple sits on the southwest corner of the square. It is notable for its unique decorative style. The Gryphon Tea Room is located on the ground floor of the building. Visitors can experience the beautiful stained glass dome when they visit for lunch or afternoon tea. A pharmacy once stood on this site, as there are several old display ads , including a stained glass window showing mortars grinding herbs to make medicine.
Also notable is E. Shafer Books & Maps, on the northeast corner of the Madison Square. It is one of Savannah’s oldest and best-known independent bookstores.