Madisonville (population 19,307) was founded in 1807 and named for then-U.S. Secretary of State James Madison. Madisonville is the seat of Hopkins County and is located in western Kentucky. By the early 1900s, the city was a center of railroad transportation and featured coal mining and tobacco industries. Manufacturing industries have been prominent in the community since the mid-20th century because of the development of several important highways close to the city.
For more than 20 years, the community has commemorated its heritage with a week-long celebration called James Madison Days. Several events occur throughout the week, each connecting to the heritage of Madisonville and James Madison himself. A sampling of typical events include living history portrayals of James and Dolly Madison for local schools, students performing plays on James Madison, historic walking and driving tours, and a symposium featuring prominent historians in Kentucky.
The Historical Society of Hopkins County opened the Hopkins County Museum in 1976. The building contains artifacts of Hopkins County history as well as thousands of books and pictures. The site also includes the relocated Gov. Ruby Laffoon birthplace. The restored log cabin appears as it did when the former Kentucky governor resided there in the late 1800s. The Madisonville Historic District Commission protects the city’s historic districts and areas from demolition, inappropriate alterations, and encourages new construction.
In the Downtown Commercial Historic District, the city’s façade improvement grant program has led to improvements to 23 buildings in just two years. Madisonville Kidapalooza is an event located in downtown Madisonville. The event includes games and activities for kids of all ages, including storytellers and World War II games. Madisonville also features the largest veteran’s parade in the state of Kentucky.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2004.