The Origins of Some Madison, Wisconsin, Street Names
By Burr Angle, Dolores Kester, and Ann Waidelich
Copyright © Burr Angle 2010
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Part IV - The Origins of Some Northside Madison, Wisconsin, Street Names: Sketches of Some Northside Developers
Clyde A. Gallagher, Oscar and Elfreida Taueber, the Droster brothers, the Moe family, Harry Scoville, Aaron and Rosella Elkind, and Ingvald Hovde were some of the builders and developers who helped shape the Northside.
Clyde A. Gallagher was born in 1890, one of nine children, a son of Elisha Gallagher who owned a Madison real estate business. Clyde joined the firm about 1912, concentrating for many years on housing for the working man. He started Clyde A. Gallagher’s Sherman Avenue subdivision in the early 1920s and Prospect Hill in 1943. The Sherman Avenue subdivision is bordered by North Sherman Avenue, Schlimgen Street, Loftsgordon Street, and Aberg Avenue. Prospect Hill was originally 90 acres, but now consists only of the area west of North Sherman, south of McPherson, north of Carioca, and east of Fremont.
The Gallagher firm survived the Depression and World War II. The Gallaghers had 10 children but none of them continued the business after Clyde’s death in April 1947, at age 57.
Gallagher built more than 500 houses and at least six subdivisions. He never foreclosed on a property, often paid taxes for home owners down on their luck, and even paid their hospital bills. If an owner died, the mortgage was canceled.
Clyde said that his houses were built from locally purchased materials and were constructed by union labor. Ninety-five per cent were owner-occupied.
Sherman Park, the area north of Steensland, west of North Sherman to the railroad tracks, and south of McPherson, was developed by Sherman Park, Inc., which was incorporated in 1928 by members of the South Side Realty Co. including Oscar J. and Elfreida Taueber, and August C. Holscher. Allen W. Dibble was also involved.
Dibble was born in Center, near Evansville, Wisconsin; graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1891; started a law firm in Madison in 1895; and became interested in real estate about 1908. He died on May 14, 1928.
The Tauebers were among the founders of the South Side State Bank, where Holscher was cashier.
The South Side Realty Company’s office was at 308 Lakeside Street; the Tauebers lived around the corner at 953 Lake Court. Oscar J. Taueber died on November 24, 1947.
Sherman Park was apparently their only venture on the Northside. Its slow growth until after World War II was similar to that of Clyde A. Gallagher’s Sherman Avenue subdivision on the east side of North Sherman.
The Droster brothers were from the Town of Burke. Willard Droster (1900-1972) and Elmer Droster (1902-1974) became contractors in 1925. In the 1930s and 1940s they built houses in Sherman Park. In the 1950s and 1960s they concentrated on houses along Manley Street, Sachtjen Street, and Fremont Avenue.
Roy Droster (1892-1973), owned a general store and gas station at the corner of North Sherman Avenue and Logan Street from 1927 through 1946. Harlow Schubring then operated the store until it closed about 1970.
Albert K. Moe was born in Norway in 1884, moved to Madison, worked for some time as a machinist, and then became a carpenter and building contractor specializing in commercial buildings, apartments, and houses.
In the 1950s and 1960s his family built Brentwood Village just north of McPherson and west of Fremont on land that Albert had acquired over the years.
Brentwood attracted an upper-middle income market, providing buyers an alternative to the expensive houses in Maple Bluff and the smaller houses elsewhere on the Northside. Brentwood was the Moes’ crowning achievement. None of the family remained in the business after the 1960s.
Most of the houses in Madison from the early days until the 1950s and many houses after that were constructed using traditional methods. An individual or developer built each house one at a time. Harry Scoville is a good example of a traditional builder on the Northside. He was born about 1915 on a farm near Mauston, moved to Madison, and put in 13 years as a production worker at Oscar Mayer.
According to a January 28, 1991, article by Rob Zaleski in The Capital Times, Harry’s first house in 1952 was based on a plan from Better Homes and Gardens magazine. He built the house himself. He liked the work and then built more than 100 houses over the next 25 years, most in the Lake View Hills area.
About 1950, as the postwar housing boom was hitting its stride, a number of Madison developers, influenced by housing trends elsewhere in the U.S. and in Europe, made several changes to the traditional procedures.
Their firms bought large tracts of land, divided the land into lots, and then built dozens or hundreds of small houses from standard designs. They were sold at fixed prices with low down payments. Many buyers qualified for low interest G.I. or FHA loans. Builders’ costs were usually about eight per cent less than traditional methods.
A skilled developer could complete one project, move on to another, and accumulate considerable profit. A bungling or unlucky developer could go bankrupt in a flash.
Several established Madison builders adopted these “en bloc” or “tract builders” methods. The techniques also attracted developers from different backgrounds than the Gallaghers, Tauebers, and Moes.
Aaron Elkind was born about 1917 in Milwaukee where his parents owned Elkind’s Reliable Grocery Store. He graduated from North Division High School in 1934 and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison about 1935. At the U.W. he majored in economics, was a member of the Jewish fraternity, worked as a salesman for Manchester’s Department Store and graduated in 1940. From 1941 to 1945 he was in the U.S. Army. After the war he married Rosella Litovchik, “the girl next door,” who had belonged to the same sorority as Elkind’s sister, Shirley, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in the class of 1942.
In 1949 Aaron acquired the Madison rights, probably a franchise from Sears, Roebuck, to build 40 to 100 precut houses designed by the Wollander FarWest Company in the 100 and 200 blocks of Harding Street and the surrounding Tilton-Midlands area.
These houses were about 700 square feet and were built on a concrete slab. They featured central heating, a fireplace, carpeting, and Sears kitchen appliances. They sold for about $8,000 and were an instant success. A spotting feature of these houses is an unusually large rectangular red brick chimney located dead center on the street side of the roof.
The Elkinds called their company the Marcy Corp., probably named for their first-born, Marcy.
About 1950 the Elkinds moved to Madison and lived for some time on Shepard Terrace. They later lived at 1106 Mohican Pass. The 1950 Madison City Directory erroneously lists Elkind as working as a salesman or manager for the Humphrey Tree Expert Company before taking up construction full time, but in 2011 Elkind family members reported that he had never worked for Humphrey. The error apparently arose from a clerical mixup at the City Directory, probably because Elkind and Humphrey were both located in the Security State Building at the time.
Elkind and his associate Donald B. Sanford started Eastmorland in 1954. Elkind and Sanford often hired a young attorney named Albert McGinnis as their business lawyer. McGinnis later became an important developer and civic leader.
In the early 1960s the Elkinds specialized in middle income housing east of Stoughton Road, particularly in the Kingston and Rolling Meadows areas.
Berkeley Heights, where the streets are named for English poets, novelists, and essayists was their most important Northside project.
During these years Rosella became a leader in women’s activities at the Beth Israel synagogue.
Word had also probably gotten out through the grapevine that Aaron had fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France (Normandy, where his 82nd Airborne Division unit landed by glider or parachute the night before D-Day), and Germany until the end of the war in Europe. He received three Purple Hearts and became a First Lieutenant.
In 1958 Rosella purchased several hundred acres of land, much of it marsh, on both sides of North ShermanAvenue north of Wheeler Road in Section 18 of Burke and Section 24 of Westport on a land contract from Dr. J.P. West, a veterinarian who had used some of this land as a hog farm.
In 1961 the Elkinds sold the land to Cherokee Park, Inc., of which Aaron was a director. This firm hoped to purchase even more land in the area and wanted to build a lake, a golf course, a bowling alley, upper-income houses, apartments, a hotel, and a shopping center.
The City of Madison, Dane County, and the State of Wisconsin objected to these plans because the project would destroy wetlands along the Yahara River.
Cherokee Park, Inc. eventually acquired a few hundred acres in addition to the West/Elkind land but scaled back to the lake, the golf course, and about 150 house lots, with some land left for future expansion. In 1973 Cherokee began to build condominiums.
In 1963 the Elkinds turned over their Madison activities to Donald B. Sanford (1916-1985) and moved to California. Sanford’s obituary states that he built 2000 houses in the Madison area.
A one-man real estate company started in Madison by Ingvald Hovde is now part of a national firm, Hovde Financial. A subsidiary, Hovde Properties, is involved with construction, property management, and related services in the Madison area.
The Hovde family has long ties to the Northside.
Ingvald Hovde (pronounced Huv-dee) was born in Voss, Norway about 1904. His family moved to America when he was five years old. They lived at various places in the Great Plains and then in a lumber camp in northern Wisconsin before moving to Stoughton in 1911 and Madison in 1920.
In 1933 Ingvald bought the Ross M. Koen real estate firm and renamed it I. Hovde Realty. He did well enough that his family soon moved to a large house at 1450 Morrison Street.
In 1942 Ingvald and his wife Joseffa bought a farm in Westport. They used the farm and a house at 1210 Troy Drive primarily for recreation. The family sold most of the farm in the 1950s and began a subdivision called Mendota Hills on the remainder. In 1956 Ingvald and Joseffa moved into a house they built in Mendota Hills at 3601 Cascade Road. Joseffa died in 1979. Ingvald retired in 1969 and died in 1995, at age 91.
One of their sons, Donald I. Hovde, had an especially interesting career. He was born in 1932, attended East High School and graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1953. He joined the Army, served in Korea for two years, became a Captain, and was a pilot with an Army reserve unit at Truax.
In 1964, Donald ran for the State Senate from the 26th District but lost to Fred Risser. He stayed with the family business until 1981 when he served as Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development until 1983. He then established a financial services company and remained in Washington until 1991 when he returned to Madison. He died in February 2002, at age 70.
Madison and Milwaukee City Directories, Dane County Plat Books, articles in the Madison Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee yearbooks, were major sources for this section.
A folder in the Local Materials Collection at the Madison Public Library labeled “Neighborhoods – Cherokee” contains many newspaper clippings about the Cherokee project. Ruth Baumann’s Cherokee Marsh – Win, Draw, or Compromise? (Madison, 1968) examines the ways in which citizen groups, government workers, and elected officials tried to balance private enterprise with the need to protect natural areas.
Special thanks to the Jewish Museum Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.