I’m a docent for the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation and I give architectural walking tours of State Street here in Madison. I’ve learned a lot about the history of this iconic street from this experience. I enjoy showing State Street and talking about it to visitors from out of town or even to Madisonians.
Some of my favorite historic buildings from the 1800s on State Street include:
|The Castle & Doyle Building, former Madison Fire Engine House #2, built in 1857. The decorative neo-classical terra cotta facade was added in 1921.|
|The Conklin Block, built in 1895, in the high Gothic revival style (the pointed brick arches are reminiscent of European Gothic cathedrals). The building had a conical turret as late as 1978 but it was removed after a fire.|
The Matthew Gay Building, a Queen Anne design built in 1899. The motto of architects of that era must have been "too much is not enough." Notice all the design elements on the more ornate State St. (left) side of the building.
|The George Sherer Meat Market built in 1866. The red siding was added in the 1950s or 60s. The current Badger Liquor sign has been grandfathered in since it is too large for the present-day sign ordinance.|
I’ve also gone on historic building tours on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. That city certainly has some impressive architecture.
One important lesson I’ve learned from being a docent is to “look up” whenever we are in another town during our wanderings. It’s fun to see if the same kind of architecture is evident in another place we're visiting or passing through.