Where are the Historic Districts in Madison?

Madison's Historic Districts feature an abundance of exquisite houses located between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. If you’re considering buying a historic home in Madison, knowing where to look is the first step. Here are the top historic districts in Madison to consider.

Marquette Bungalows Historic District

Image Source - BlokfluiterCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons 

West of Madison lies an area that contains some of the city's most culturally vibrant neighborhoods, bordered by Owen Conservation Park and conveniently close to all three school options (elementary, middle, and high).

This district contains 47 modest-size houses that showcase creativity in their details. Many include Craft Woodwork, leaded glass windows, and wooden flooring - some even feature Craft Woodworking!

Architecture in this neighborhood blends elements from Queen Anne, Prairie Style, and Period Revival styles. For example, The Holland House at 624 South Thornton Avenue features jerkin-headed side dormers with flaring walls in its front facade while at 1509-11 Spaight Street stands a rental duplex called Bjelde with polygonal bay windows and battered brick porch piers.

Third Lake Ridge Historic District

At the heart of Madison's vibrant East Side lies the Third Lake Ridge Historic District; home to an abundance of gorgeous Victorian-style homes dating as far back as 1867! Nestled along Williamson Street (locals refer to it as "Willy") these charming historic homes are just steps from all the action in downtown Madison - shops, coffee, restaurants, the lake, bike paths and so much more are right at your fingertips - it may never leave!

First Settlement Historic District

Madison's original neighborhood, this southeastern residential district was its original neighborhood. With its small houses and warm character, its homes provided the backdrop to the new state capitol building and downtown businesses. Over time, however, the growth of Madison started encroaching on this neighborhood and threatened its desirability.

Mansion Hill was home to numerous influential people who contributed to Madison. Their names can still be seen today on street signs, clinics, schools, and the baseball stadium - such as Napoleon Bonaparte Van Slyke who hired August Kutzbock as an architect to create his opulent yet distinct house but never resided there himself.

Other highlights include John Nolen's 1905 city-owned enclosed farmers' market designed in the Prairie School style, and Ferdinand Kronenberg's utilitarian brick warehouse used to store leaf tobacco built between 1899-1901 with Neoclassical accents.

Mansion Hill Historic District

Mansion Hill Historic District is one of Madison's oldest areas and features buildings from a wide variety of architectural styles ranging from churches and tobacco warehouses to tiny cottages and grand mansions.

Since 1977, its buildings have been designated local historic districts; since that time the Madison Landmarks Commission has reviewed any permits for exterior alterations that take place within its borders, resulting in new construction that more closely fits in with its historic character.

Madison's Old World Village district contains the greatest concentration of high-style nineteenth-century residences in Madison. Here can be found examples of Italianate, Second Empire, and German Romanesque Revival architecture as well as buildings constructed using locally quarried sandstone. It is notable for this concentration.

Many houses in the district have been converted to multi-unit dwellings, yet many retain a high degree of historic integrity in terms of setting, materials, feeling, association, and design. Samuel Donnel and August Kutzbock are two architects that have designed buildings in this district.

University Heights Historic District

University Heights Historic District in Madison was created as Madison's first prestigious residential suburb by former mayor Breese Stevens and developed by the University Heights Company for faculty of nearby UW-Madison University. It was originally known as Breese Stevens Park until being transformed into University Heights Historic District in 1978 by its current name of University Heights Historic District.

The Heights offers a diverse array of architectural styles, from Queen Anne and Shingle houses to Prairie Style and Period Revival homes popular during the 1920s. Each home represents the wealth, influence, and intellect of its original residents.

University Heights area boasts many examples of Arts & Crafts, Bungalow, and Prairie Style designs that sought to break free from historical precedent. Such buildings emphasized natural materials, simple geometric forms, and open floor plans.

Featured Image Source - James E. Heg, compiler of the 1885 edition of the Wisconsin Blue Book(Life time: 1980), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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