The 20th Century

The first thirty years of the twentieth century in Madison County were years of struggle; progress appeared to be slowed by tradition, economic stagnation, and poor educational opportunities. Changes, however, did occur. Rural isolation was lessened by the telephone and popularity of the automobile. Madison County's population increased in the 1920's, and businesses seemed stable and prosperous. New church edifices appeared in Berea and Richmond. Chain stores also arrived in Richmond during the twenties. The Bluegrass Ordnance Depot, located six miles south of Richmond, was established in 1941 with approximately 14,650 acres of land used for storage of materials and ammunition. The disposal of chemical weapons at the Depot is a major unresolved issue.

Unprecedented population growth, economic development, and cultural change have marked the county's history since the 1940's. With the rapid growth of Eastern Kentucky University in the sixties, education has become the largest single growth industry in the county. The opening of I-75 through Madison County in the 1960's completely rearranged the traffic flow through downtown Richmond and Berea.  This hurt many of the local businesses. With the completion of the first segment of the Richmond By-Pass from I-75 in the 1960's came an increase in job opportunites for Madison Countians.  Industrial plants, shopping malls, super stores, motels, and restaurants were built along the new road..  Several downtown stores moved their location to larger buildings along the By-Pass. Increasingly as Lexington/Fayette County has experienced phenomenal growth, a considerable portion of population and business spilled over into Madison County. Cultural tourism, with the development of Fort Boonesborough State Park, White Hall State Historic House, and the crafts industry in Berea is also a major source of revenue as Madison County approached the 21st century.

Information for this article came from Lavinia H. Kubiak's Madison County Rediscovered:  Selected Historic Architecture (1988)

Additional information provided by Dean Whitaker