Looking Back Column

                                                  THE SESSION HOUSE

​      From 1851 to 1888, the Session House sat on the triangular piece of property between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue today the site of the Veteran’s Memorial at James Park. It was erected by the Madison Presbyterian Church for the purpose of holding prayer meetings and Sunday school that had previously been held in the upper room of the Madison Academy. The parishioners were unhappy with that arrangement stating that the Academy was uncomfortable and inconvenient.
​    After investigating several possibilities, the church purchased land from Mrs. Mahlon Pierson, which had previously been the site of Obadiah Crane’s store. A committee was formed headed by Benjamin Birdsall, along with George Sayre and Ashbel Bruen, Mr. Birdsall spent a very large part of his time and money on the project. It continued to be used for prayer meetings until the completion of Webb Chapel in 1887-88.
​       The dimensions of the building were twenty eight feet by forty five feet and were able to accommodate about two hundred and twenty five people. It was of wood construction and had two coats of paint on the outside and inside. Carpeting was installed as well as blinds, a sofa and solar lamps. After the church vacated the building, it was used for many town activities until in 1888 when it was taken over and used as the Borough Offices. It remained the town hall until the creation of James Park, at which time they moved to the James Building. The building was demolished in 1898.
​       At a council meeting, the police presented the Mayor with an ornamental police club made from a piece of wood from the session house. It was inscribed; “This club is made of wood taken from the old session house, and presented to J.P. Albright, Esq., as the first mayor of the borough of Madison, by the police department. 1850-1897.”
​                             Researched and written by staff assistant Helene Corlett