Stroll through Madisonville and you will see lots of activity. People are out walking their pets, taking a jog to get some exercise or simply walking through the neighborhood. It’s an urban community where you can live, play, walk and enjoy life. This older neighborhood was established when most trips were by foot and thus its “downtown” is easily accessible by nearby residential blocks.
Located northeast of downtown Cincinnati along the I-71 corridor at Red Bank Road, Madisonville is surrounded by Hyde Park, Oakley, Mariemont, Madeira, Indian Hill and Fairfax. The area is known for its diversity, affordable housing and many attractive homes along tree-lined streets. One of Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhoods, Madisonville is enjoying a resurgence in housing and business development.
History of Madisonville
Madisonville’s roots are deep, going back to 1797 when frontiersman and Revolutionary War veteran Joseph Ward built a log cabin along an old Indian trail near Whetsel and Monning Avenue. The community was formally established in 1809 and called Madison – named after the newly elected President James Madison. Madisonville annexed itself as part of Cincinnati in 1911 when it had 3,000 residents.
In its prime (prior to the construction of I-71 and Kenwood Mall) Madisonville was the second-largest neighborhood business district, attracting many east-side shoppers.
Today, Madisonville is home for almost 10,000 residents. Although the many older stores and retail businesses are gone, this neighborhood is undergoing a transformation.
Old Madisonville is growing once again with an influx of economic development in business and housing. A plan is in place to create a walkable, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood business district near Madison Road and Whetsel Avenue. More development work is set in place for the Red Bank Expressway corridor.
Restoration of the Historic 5900 Madison Avenue Building
In 2016, a former 1920s-era bank building was restored by the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (MCURC). This 2,600 square foot building was converted into retail and apartment spaces featuring two-bedroom apartments. Read more about this building.
Local Business Have Opened in Madisonville in 2016:
Lala’s Blissful Bites opened its second location on Madison Road near Whetsel. This local business offers southern-style baking. Besides cakes, pies and other goodies, this bakery also serves lunch.
CooKoo’s Coffee Shoppe is located on Whetsel Avenue and is a great place to meet up for a drink or to grab lunch.
Mad Llama Coffee Shop is located at the corner of Madison and Kenwood Roads and is serving coffee daily. A fun fact: one of the co-owners is a decendent of Madisonville founder Joseph Ward.
One finds many affordable homes constructed from the 1920s and later in Madisonville. From Cape Cods, turn-of-the-century Victorians, to cottage-style and brick-wrapped residences, the neighborhood offers a variety of styles and prices. See homes for sale in Madisonville.
Plans are in place for the development of 20 home lots along Duck Creek Road (east of Kennedy Avenue and west of Strathmore Drive.) These residences will be priced from $250,000-$300,000. Read more about this development.
Additionally, the MCURC has been building and rehabbing homes throughout Madisonville.
Apartments and Shopping Plaza
Plans include the creation of several hundred apartments as well as a new look for the Madisonville shopping plaza (Madison Road and Whetzel Avenue). See a news clip from WKRC Channel 12 News here or a Business Courier article.
Red Bank Road District
The Red Bank Road commercial corridor has been transformed in the past few years. The site of the former Nutone company (owned by J. Ralph Corbett) is now the global headquarters for Medpace, a medical research corporation.
Plans are in place to construct an eight-story hotel at the Red Bank and Madison Road site (where the rainbow-colored parking garage is currently located.) Other plans include adding restaurants, residential units, office buildings and an outdoor event space on the site’s unused seven acres.
Madisonville’s location is ideal with easy access to many parts of the city. It’s just a short drive to access south or north Interstate 71. Head eastward along Madison Road and you are in Oakley and Hyde Park in just minutes. Neighboring Mariemont and Fairfax (with their many shops and restaurants) is a short five-minute drive. Downtown Cincinnati can be reached in 12-minutes via I-71 or Columbia Parkway (Route 50). For those who prefer to ride the bus, there are several Metro lines available throughout the neighborhood.
Madisonville Recreation Center
The recreation center is located on Stewart Road and features a fitness center, gym, swimming pools, tennis court, game room, walking track, soccer field and ball field. The center offers senior programs.
500 Gardens in Madisonville
Madisonville residents get their fingers dirty by participating in food-producing gardens. The program headed by Sidestreams Foundation and their goal is to have 500 gardens in the neighborhood. New gardeners enjoy a mentoring class on gardening basics. Each garden is a 4 by 8 feet raised plot.
Madisonville Garden Market at Lighthouse Community School – 6100 Desmond St
The Madisonville Community Garden sells produce (as well as eggs) on Thursdays (4:30pm -7pm) and Saturdays (11am-1pm).
The Madisonville branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County started as the Madisonville Town Hall in 1882 (which featured a sheriff’s office, jail and Kroger grocery.)
Madisonville Parks and Trails
Bramble Park features two play areas, a basketball court, picnic areas and baseball/softball fields. Little Duck Creek Park is a small park tucked along Roe Avenue.
The Murray Bike Trail (aka Fairfax Trail) is located in nearby Mariemont off Plainville Road. The trail is .8 miles long and parallels along Murray Avenue to La Crosse Avenue in Madisonville. Plans are in place to link this trail to the Eastern Corridor Bike Trail.
Several festivals along Miami Road are hosted in the heart of downtown Madisonville throughout the year.
Madisonville has an active Community Council that meets monthly.
Things to Do in Madisonville:
French Rendez-vous. Browse through this shop where everything is francais. From French soaps, linens to pastries and baguettes. Oh la la to pain au chocolat!
Feeling Mexican? Try Mazunte Taqueria (5297 Madison Road). It’s a popular spot! Or head to the Ali Baba Grill (4793 Red Bank Expressway) for authentic Mediterranean cuisine. Millie’s Place (5923 Madison Road) has limited hours from Thursday – Sunday, and is a quaint place for a meal. Or stop by Ron D’s BBQ stand on Madison Road. (Or check out the aforementioned Lala’s, CooKoo’s or Mad Llama.)
The Bramble Patch (6768 Bramble Avenue) is a classic “sports” bar. It’s 70’s-era vibe attracted producers to film some scenes for the John Travolta Giotti movie there!
Drop off Fido.
The Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa is located at 5081 Madison Road.
Go car shopping.
Maserati, Porsche and Volvo is located on Plainville Road.
Enjoy ice cream.
There are two UDF Dairies in Madisonville. One on Madison Road near Red Bank Road and the other is located on Plainville Road.
Walk and explore.
Madisonville is a very walkable neighborhood with plenty of sidewalks and places to explore.
Stroll by the Madisonville firehouse – it was built in 1900 and is one of the oldest fire stations in Cincinnati.
The Laurel Cemetery on Roe Street was founded in 1863. You’ll find many 19th century war veterans as well as some notable Madisonville residents have been buried there including family names such as Settle and Bramble.
Photos: Sibcy Cline Photography Department/Lea Henderson and Susan Knabe