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.
Madisonville was named by Redfin as Cincinnati’s hottest neighborhood. Read more about that here.
Corner of Madison Road and Whetsel Avenue
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. The lower space in this building has been converted into Tom Smith Brewery.
There are several phases of development completed at the Madison Road/ Whetsel Avenue corner:
- Phase 1: (Southwest corner of Madison/Whetsel) 24,000 sf mixed-use building that includes commercial and 104 apartments; upgrades to the Madisonville Retail Center across the street.
- Phase 2: (Northeast corner of Madison/Whetsel) 8,000 sf street-level retail with 116 apartments.
- Phase 3: (Southeast corner of Madison/Whetsel) 90 apartment units; 15,000 sf of creative office space and 12,000 sf of retail space. Thirty-foot sidewalks provide space for street festivals, farmers markets and other public events.
Local Madisonville Businesses:
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 descendant 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.
There are 20 home lots along Duck Creek Road (east of Kennedy Avenue and west of Strathmore Drive.) Read more about this development.
Additionally, homes have been built and rehabbed throughout the community.
Apartments and Shopping Plaza
There are three Madamore apartment buildings in the heart of Madisonville. The buildings features a fitness center, coffee bar, and lounge.
Apartments and townhouses are found at the Jameson at the corner of Madison Road and Stewart Avenue. A fitness center and outdoor swimming pool are found on site.
The RED Apartments
The RED Apartments along Red Bank Road are located across from Medpace and near Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa. There 164 luxury apartment units and a 140-car space underground garage are part of this building. Studio, one- and two-bedroom units that feature 10-foot ceilings are available. The building has a fitness room, wine room, yoga studio as well as gas grills and a pool.
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.
The Summit – a four-story hotel at the Red Bank and Madison Road features 93 rooms and 41 suites. A rooftop terrace and garden is a great place to relax. Guests also enjoy the expressive art in this hotel.
Element Eatery Food Hall is the newest development near Medpace. Nine restaurants offer tempting food along with a craft beer distillery. Indoor and outdoor seating is provided along with over 50 video screens to broadcast live sporting events. The Eatery is open seven days a week.
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.
Formerly the Madisonville Arts and Cultural Center, this community arts building is now operated by Artsville. This center has partnered with Playhouse in the Park and other organizations to produce local theater productions. Read more about Artsville.
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.
Fun fact – Madisonville is home to about 500 chickens!
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!
Tap and Screw Brewery
Enjoy a brew or two at 4721 Red Bank Road Expressway.
You have several choices in Madisonville for your favorite coffee shop. Mad Llama Coffee is located on Madison Rd. The Madison Place is on Plainville Road. Mom ‘n ‘Em Coffee & Wine is located on Whetsel Avenue.
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.
The Manifest Drawing Center is located on Whetsel Avenue. Learn more about this organization here.
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
Updated: September 2022