Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Look Up

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:

W.S. Main Building at the top of State St., an example of commercial Italianate architecture, built in 1855 from sandstone quarried near Waunakee. Notice how much more ornate the State St. (right) side of the building is. More traffic used to go past that side so it needed to be more attractive to get the attention of passers by.
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. 


  1. Do you point out 627 State St as well?

  2. I didn't know you did those - girlfriend, we have to talk! (Tell me, do YOU know the explanation for the drum trap?) I show off the Main building from our fourth floor ("can you imagine what the first folks saw looking out their windows in 1855?")