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Historic Madison is a magnet for movies

Madison, Del., where “Goosebumps” is set, doesn’t actually exist, but Madison, Ga. does.

The picturesque town about an hour east of Atlanta was the perfect location for the movie adaptation of R.L. Stine’s series of young adult books.

“I loved Madison for the nerdiest reason,” said director Rob Letterman. “The clock tower in ‘Back to Future’ reminded me of the courthouse there.”

MORE COVERAGE: Where "Goosebumps" filmed in Georgia

Don't worry, historic Madison is A-ok after this giant praying mantis stomped through town!

The Morgan County Courthouse was built in 1905 to replace the Old Morgan County Courthouse (circa 1845), demolished following a fire. The Beaux Arts style structure features Corinthian columns, an octagonal lantern and four-faced clock. And it is A-OK even after a giant (and mercifully computer generated) praying mantis stomped through town.

“I can’t wait to see the praying mantis squash us!” joked Ellen Ianelli Sims of the Madison-Morgan Convention & Visitors Bureau. She organized an advance screening of “Goosebumps,” which opens Friday, for locals.

“‘Goosebumps’ filmed intermittently for three months with Jack Black often walking to set with his guitar on his back, and frequenting the local ice cream shop,” she said.

Jack Black, who stars as R.L. Stine in "Goosebumps," on the set in Madison. Photo: Brandy Angel Photography

The movie, out just in time for Halloween, is just the latest production to set up shop there. “Mena,” starring Tom Cruise, filmed there over the summer. The 2012 movie “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” with Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, the 2011 “Footloose” remake, Ben Affleck’s upcoming movie “The Accountant” and James Franco’s upcoming “In Dubious Battle” all found their way to the Morgan County seat.

Tom Cruise filmed scenes for "Mena" in Madison. Photo: Jack Meyer

On a more regular basis, the television shows “The Originals” and “The Vampire Diaries” film there.

Downtown looks glorious on the big screen in “Goosebumps” (before the monsters all get loose, that is), and Madison has been saluted by Budget Travel Magazine as one of the world’s most beautiful towns.

For whatever reason, Sherman put the matches away when his men marched through Madison.

“Restored antebellum homes stand alongside fragrant gardens in Madison, Ga.,” the roundup read. “Legend has it that Gen. Sherman refused to burn down Madison during his March to the Sea because it was so pretty.”

Actually, Madison may have been spared because it was the home of pro-Union Sen. Joshua Hill, but that didn’t stop it from earning the moniker as “the town too pretty to burn.”

The ghouls of “Goosebumps” certainly didn’t mind rampaging through the place, Sims noted: “While we are outside of some of the film producers' radar, ‘Goosebumps’ producers were sold on using us as their small town America on which the monsters would wreak havoc.”

The "Goosebumps" set in downtown Madison. Photo: Brandy Angel Photography


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About the Author

Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for

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