Terry Farm Tour - Sites 1 - 9

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 1

Edgewood Pleasure Drive
Between Edgewood Avenue and Woodrow Street
[PICTURE-Edgewood Pleasure Drive]
photograph © Shawn Schey
Part of a Pleasure Drive planned to circle Lake Wingra

Begun informally in 1892 and incorporated in 1894, the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association (MPPDA) raised private funds to develop and maintain scenic drives and parks in and around Madison. John Olin, who served as the MPPDA's president until 1909, wanted all citizens of the increasingly urban community to be able to enjoy nature - a desire that significantly influenced Madison's landscape.

The MPPDA's Tenney Park and Yahara Parkway projects demonstrated how wetlands, which turn-of-the-century Madisonians considered useless and unhealthy, could be improved and beautified. This set the stage for constructing the Edgewood Pleasure Drive from Edgewood Avenue to Woodrow Street in 1904, part of a dream Olin had to circle Lake Wingra.

Until 1931, the Association functioned as the City's unofficial parks department. The parks established and managed by the MPPDA remain largely intact today, but most of the pleasure drives have become urban streets. Edgewood Pleasure Drive is one of only five that retain their original character (the others include Willow Drive, Lake Mendota Drive through Eagle Heights Woods, Owen Parkway through Hoyt Park, and Farwell Drive through Maple Bluff).

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 2

American Indian Mounds
Along Edgewood Pleasure Drive and between DeRicci Hall and tne Oscar Rennebohm Library on the Edgewood Campus

[PICTURE - mound]
A thousand-year-old homage to Lake Wingra and its springs

Approximately one thousand years ago the earliest residents of today's Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood appear to have been attracted by and to have cherished Lake Wingra and the many springs surrounding it. Having found the area suitable for growing corn, which had been recently introduced from Mexico, the Late Woodland people left a lasting impression on the landscape in the form of 10-foot-high conical, linear, and effigy mounds.

Eleven Late Woodland mounds survive on the Edgewood campus, including a bird effigy located along Woodrow Street between DeRicci Hall and the Oscar Rennebohm Library that is covered with wild flowers. A plaque posted at the site in 1919 by the History Department of the Madison Women's Club indicates the bird effigy's body is 80 feet long with a 260 foot wingspread. Several mounds along the Edgewood Pleasure Drive are covered with vegetation and require careful observation in order to see them.

Additional nearby mound groupings were located on the Dudgeon School site [See Site 25], a site slightly to the north of and parallel to Monroe Street between Woodrow and Harrison Streets, and along the old railroad bed between Commonwealth Avenue and Glenway Street.

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 3

Edgewood Campus
Along Monroe Street between Edgewood Avenue and Woodrow Street

photograph © Shawn Schey
Once a villa; today the neighborhood's largest educational institution

Villa Edgewood was begun for Philadelphia lawyer John Ashmead in 1855 and completed for local banker Samuel Marshall in 1857. In 1873, Governor Cadwallader Washburn and his wife, Jeannette, purchased the 55-acre property for their private residence. In 1881, he donated it to the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa "for educational purposes of the highest order." In the mansion, they started Edgewood Academy of the Sacred Heart, an elementary and high school for girls. In 1893, the whole structure burned, killing three students.

A combination academy and convent building was constructed on the same site immediately after the fire, and the school continued as before. Until the 1930s much of the rest of the property remained a farm, which supplied food for the students. The academy-convent was torn down in 1969.

A new building was built in 1925-1927, serving as a high school for boys and girls and a residential junior college for women. Edgewood added a four-year liberal arts college in 1942 and turned co-educational in 1970.

The high school building was designed by Governor Washburn's grandson, architect Albert Kelsey, and features noteworthy terra cotta work. Look for the ornamentation symbolizing the Dominican order: several yards down from the roof, a narrow band of cherubs is separated by the black and white Dominican shield. The seal of the order hangs over the arched central doorway. The inside of this arch is decorated with intricate terra cotta work in Florentine style. Two huge black double doors, with wrought iron grills over their glass panels, open onto two tiers of wide marble stairs. The central tower of the building was designed to be ten stories high, but the cost restricted construction to four stories.

The oldest building on Edgewood's campus is Marshall Hall, located behind the high school. This stone building was built in 1864 as a carriage house and servants' quarters. It was redesigned as a college dormitory by Madison architect John J. Flad in 1944.

[PICTURE-Marshall Hall]
photograph © Daryl Sherman
Marshall Hall

In the early 1990s, Edgewood announced plans to further develop its campus, including a parking ramp, upgraded athletic field and a science building. After the City rejected the plans in 1996 because of traffic concerns, Edgewood worked closely with the neighborhood to resolve the traffic dilemma and to create a positive working relationship. Construction was completed in 1999.

CAN YOU FIND... Apartments That Were at the Edge of Town in the 1920s?

The Gay Building Company built four three-story apartment buildings (2801-2821 Monroe Street) in 1925, although most considered these buildings a big business risk because they were so far from downtown.


Terry Farm Tour -- Site 4

Chase Home
938 Woodrow Street

[PICTURE-Chase Home]
photograph © Shawn Schey
One of the oldest homes in the neighborhood

The Samuel and Helen Chase home at the end of Woodrow Street on the shores of Lake Wingra was built in 1872 by Samuel Chase, the eldest child of George Chase, a master carpenter from Philadelphia, who came to work on the Edgewood Villa. In 1861, Samuel Chase married Helen Larkin, daughter of Jonathan Larkin, Sr., the neighbor to the north [See Site 5].

The Chases built a small saltbox cottage, which has not survived, on two acres of lake shore property which was a gift from Helen's father. In 1872, in front of the cottage, Samuel built a larger home, which is the existing Chase home.

The two-story clapboard home is a late Gothic Revival style. The interior is simple in form and detail but of high quality throughout. The home's most striking feature is the entrance vestibule. Here, an eight point star motif in the parquet floor is made of walnut salvaged from the old Independence Hall in Philadelphia and brought to Madison by George Chase.

Walkways around the home are sandstone blocks salvaged from several old Madison houses, and the terrace is hand-cut limestone from a pre-Civil War farmhouse near Spring Green. Two large oaks in the front yard were on the property before the house was built.

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 5

Larkin Home
890 Woodrow Street

[PICTURE-Larkin Home]
photograph © Shawn Schey
Home owned by a single family for nearly 100 years

In the early 1840s, Jonathan Larkin bought a large tract of land bounded by what is now Edgewood [See Site 3], the railroad bed [See Site 29], Lake Wingra [See Site 8] and Nakoma. In 1889, the Knickerbocker Company purchased the right-of-way for its Lake Wingra Ice House [See Site 9] from the Larkins. In the same year, Jonathan Larkin's grandson, Franklin Larkin, built this modest Gothic Revival cottage at 890 Woodrow Street, designed by Reilly Brothers Architects of Spring Green. Franklin Larkin and his sister, Louise, operated a truck farm, while their sister Katherine was a pioneer grade school teacher.

Larkin spent $1,000 to build the home, a large barn and a well, which were still in use in the early 1950s. A family room and porch have been added to the original home, and an added deck highlights the still functional well and pump.

The most well known of the Larkin family was Jonathan Larkin, Jr., who was Franklin, Louise and Katherine's father. He achieved regional prominence as territorial treasurer of Wisconsin in the 1840s. His family's home was a stone mansion at the intersection of Woodrow and Monroe Streets, but is no longer there. Its walls were two feet thick and it had five fireplaces to heat the house. The home became known as the Terry Mansion after one of the daughters married Jared Terry, for whom the adjacent street, Terry Place, is named.

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 6

Bryant Home
826 Terry Place

photograph © Daryl Sherman
Example of a garage home

Dorothy Evans Bryant (1902-1983), a pioneering female aviator, had this garage home built as a retirement home for her mother in 1924. In the 1920s, some people built a miniature house at the back of their lot to live in until they could afford to build a full-size home at the front of the lot. Typically, when the main residence was constructed, the garage home was either converted to an outbuilding or demolished.

The Bryant home's history partially explains its survival. Ms. Bryant was detailed to Alaska during World War II. As punishment for "borrowing" a bomber for a summer solstice party, she was assigned to a remote post in McGrath, Alaska. However, she loved Alaska and stayed there until she retired in 1977, at which time she returned to 826 Terry Place to spend the remainder of her life.

The original 450 square-foot living space consisted of a central sitting room with a wood-burning stove, a small kitchen to the back of the house, a tiny bathroom in the center and a bedroom at the front. Another bedroom originated as a porch that afforded a nice view of Lake Wingra. The front porch was added in the 1960s.

In 1998, the family next door purchased and extensively remodeled the house so that 'Grandma could live next door.' The interior retains only the original maple floors. The front and back porches have been converted to year-round living spaces, and the original white clapboards are covered with cedar shingling.

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 7

Michael's Frozen Custard
2531 Monroe Street

photograph © Daryl Sherman
Place where more than 15,500 gallons of custard are consumed every year

The building at 2531 Monroe Street originally housed one of the 12 service stations that lined Monroe Street until the 1970s. The Mobil Oil Service Station opened in August 1935 following the construction of a two-stall garage. Gas tanks were added the following month. The station survived the gasoline rationing of World War II and prospered during the 1950s. It changed hands in 1962. The new Erickson Mobil Station remained in operation until 1982, and the last gas tanks were finally removed in 1983.

Michael's Frozen Custard opened its first restaurant on this site in 1986 (east side and Verona locations followed). It was not long before lines of customers regularly filled much of the parking lot. In 1998, Michael's sold 15,596 gallons of custard and used 4,260 pounds of pecans at this location alone.

CAN YOU FIND... Where You Can Shop on One Floor and Live on the Other Floor?

The building at 2604-2616 Monroe Street is representative of how commercial buildings were often designed in the early 1900s: small shops on the first floor and apartments above. This vertical design maintains accessibility for walking by keeping commercial and residential areas in close proximity. As cars became more common, however, development tended to sprawl horizontally, with homes located separately and far away from large warehouse stores.


Terry Farm Tour -- Site 8

Lake Wingra
Lake to the South of Monroe Street

photograph © Shawn Schey
Spring-fed lake bordered by Vilas Park, Edgewood, and UW Arboretum

Lake Wingra, unlike Madison's other lakes, is not a part of the chain of lakes connected by the Yahara River. Also, it is small (347 acres) compared to Madison's other lakes (which total 18,547 acres).

In 1834, government surveyors, rather than naming Madison's lakes, simply numbered them one through four as they moved north from the Illinois border. However, Lake Wingra was skipped and not numbered because of the set route the surveyors followed. Lake Wingra and the Yahara River already had American Indian names before Europeans settled in Madison. Yahara is the Ho-Chunk word for catfish and Wingra supposedly translates to Dead Lake.

Early Lake Wingra was surrounded by an expanse of wetlands that included about three times the area now covered by the lake and extended east all the way to Monona Bay. These marshes made the lake a bountiful source of wild rice, ducks and fish. Walter Chase's hunting journal of 1873-1896 indicates that Lake Wingra was a wild area and a duck hunter's paradise. Passenger pigeons also thrived here.

In 1904, Senator and Mrs. William F. Vilas donated 63 acres of land on Lake Wingra's shore to develop a park to honor their deceased son, Henry. Only 25 of these acres were dry land. In 1905, to expand the proportion of dry land, dredging began for the Vilas Park lagoon. By 1914, there was a zoo and a park with band concerts and baseball games on Sundays.

In 1917, the Lake Forest Land Company began dredging for what was intended to be a premier subdivision south of Lake Wingra. The company straightened and deepened Wingra Creek by three feet. The Vilas Park lagoon was nearly drained and marsh vegetation rotted, giving off a terrible stench. Irate residents forced the company to restore the lake to within a foot of its original level. Concrete paving in the marshy subdivision sank in the ooze and the company went bankrupt in 1922. The area was henceforth referred to as the "Lost City."

In 1919, a dam at the head of Wingra Creek lowered the lake's water level by about one foot, thus drastically reducing the size of the lake. The lake was also separated from its largest marsh by a dike, which is now McCaffrey Drive in the Arboretum.

From 1930 to 1970, roads and buildings filled the Lake Wingra watershed. As a result, more of the water entering the lake now comes from storm sewers rather than the many springs that used to surround the lake. Also, nutrients and other substances wash off lawns and roads into the lake through the storm sewers, affecting the chemistry of the lake in complicated ways. Detention ponds [See site 13] have been built to reduce the impact of the storm water flows.

In 1968, after considerable lobbying by neighborhood residents, the City Council voted to ban motorboats on Lake Wingra on weekends and holidays. All other days, the ordinance allows motors slower than six (6) miles per hour.

These various activities profoundly affected the lake and the kinds and numbers of fish, plants, and other animals living in and around it. Yet, Lake Wingra and the UW Arboretum continue to provide a wilderness backyard for the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood. Fish abound, muskrat houses stick up among the lily pads, the marshes provide nesting places for ducks and redwing blackbirds, and on a quiet day one might even spot a great blue heron rising majestically from the shallows.

Terry Farm Tour -- Site 9

Wingra Park and Boat Livery
824 Knickerbocker Street

Place where once an ice house stood

In 1895, Chicago's Knickerbocker Co. built an ice house on Lake Wingra. The three-story, windowless structure had a capacity for 30,000 tons of ice harvested during the coldest two to three weeks of the year. Men used two-man saws to cut 200 to 400 pound blocks of ice. A team of horses then dragged the huge ice blocks into shallow water where a conveyor belt made from planks across two chains took them into the ice house, where they were stacked and packed with sawdust for insulation.

Trains using a railroad spur off the Illinois Central track [See Site 29] transported the ice to meat packers, brewers, and retailers in Illinois and cities as far south as Memphis. In 1913, when many of these customers could rely on mechanical refrigeration, the company consolidated with Chicago's City Fuel Co. and became known as the Consumer Company. In 1920, the ice house was sold to Conklin & Sons Company, a well-known Madison family firm. The Depression and growing use of home refrigerators put the ice house out of business. In 1937, the Conklins demolished it and turned the land over to the City.

Initially a playground and garage-like boat house were constructed. In 1971, a new boat house in a sail-shaped triangular motif was constructed. This building was destroyed by arson in 1989. The present boat house was constructed in 1991. The Fuller family operated the Wingra Canoe and Sailing Center & Concessions out of these boat houses for 33 seasons until they retired in 1998.

CAN YOU FIND... The Tree with the Largest Trunk Circumference? There is a giant maple tree along the path in the Arboretum woods leading from the Sycamore tree on Arbor Drive to the Wheeler Council Ring. How many people do you think it would take to reach around this tree?