May 27, 2005

Moviegoers who saw Madison
will enjoy visiting the real city

By Brandon A. Evans

Anyone who saw the recent theatrical release of Madison, starring actor Jim Caviezel, knows that it is as much about the riverfront Indiana town as it is about a boat race on the Ohio River.

Caviezel gained fame for his portrayal of Jesus in the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ.

In this movie filmed on location in 1999, Caviezel plays real-life racing champion Jim McCormick, a repairman who pilots the Miss Madison hydroplane boat to a come-from-behind victory in the APBA Gold Cup Championship in 1971.

The movie shows McCormick’s motivation to help his town get a place on the map. Once a thriving waterfront center of transportation, industry and commerce, the city was struggling economically in the early 1970s.

Today, the city of Madison offers not only the same famous boat race that is featured in the movie, but also a treasure-trove of shopping, dining and history.

The Madison Regatta, featuring 200-mph hydroplane boat races as well as food, fireworks and other festivities, is taking place this year from July 1-3.

Admission is charged for the event, and more information can be obtained by logging on to

There are also plenty of festivals and other fun events that occur throughout the year and especially during the summer months. For more information about these events and anything else having to do with Madison, log on to

If you are interested in history, Madison offers plenty of opportunities to learn about the past of this important Ohio River community.

Tours can be arranged to visit the Lanier Mansion, a National Historic Landmark built in 1844 by architect Francis Costigan for financier and railroad magnate James F. D. Lanier.

Visitors also can check out the Jeremiah Sullivan House—the oldest mansion in Madison. The 1818 home features the only known restored federal serving kitchen on record in the country. Sullivan helped to found Hanover College in Madison and the Indiana Historical Society, and also is credited with naming Indiana’s new capital “Indianapolis.”

Another of the several museums and houses available to visit is the Jefferson County Historical Society, a museum that features changing exhibits and artifacts of local history, including permanent exhibits about the Civil War, steamboats, the Stone House and a Victorian parlor.

One mile west of town is the popular Clifty Falls State Park, which is home to more than 1,300 lush acres with scenic overlooks, 70-foot rock gorges and seven waterfalls. The state park is open all year and has a hotel, nature center, picnic area, swimming pool and campground.

Tourists will also enjoy visiting the Lanthier Winery, the Thomas Family Winery and Madison Vineyards.

Madison is also home to a variety of shops and restaurants as well as lodging.

Catholics who visit Madison during the weekend can attend Mass at Prince of Peace Church, located at 413 E. Second St., at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday from September through May and at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sunday during June, July and August.

Scott Bindley, who co-wrote the movie Madison along with his brother, William, who also directed, said that working with the people of Madison while filming the movie on location was a good experience. They filmed on location for eight weeks, which comprised 90 percent of the movie.

“Madison was a pleasure to film in,” Scott Bindley said. “Most of the downtown area is registered as a national historic landmark. The beauty of the town is readily apparent on screen, but to appreciate the beauty of the people, one must go and spend a weekend there. It is truly a special destination, not just for Indiana, but for the country itself.”

The Bindley brothers grew up in Indianapolis and attended St. Luke School and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

When they learned about the story of the stunning victory of the Miss Madison in 1971, they probed deeper and found a film project they wanted to work on.

“The people who lived the 1971 Gold Cup story were a very special group of dedicated individuals,” Scott Bindley said, “who sacrificed so much for the love of their sport and their town.

“The people of Madison are equally unique and special,” he said. “Unlike many larger towns, Madison bent over backwards for us in every way possible.”

Bindley acknowledged that, in a way, their movie may serve the same purpose that Jim McCormick’s victory did in 1971 by helping put Madison on the map for many people who have never heard of it.

“We are hoping that moviegoers will seek out Madison as a destination,” he said. “It is a wonderful tourist town with great shops and restaurants that we cannot recommend highly enough.” †

(For more information about hotels, restaurants, shops, museums or events in Madison and Jefferson County, log on to


Local site Links: