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 IX - The Origins of Some Westside Madison, Wisconsin, Street Names: Suburbs South of the Beltline to About 1980
This article discusses the origins of many street names in an area south of the Beltline Highway from Fish Hatchery Road to McKenna Boulevard from the 1850s to about 1980.
This land was in portions of the townships of Madison, Fitchburg, and Middleton; most is now in the City of Madison.
White settlement began in the 1840s; by about 1850 Fitchburg had attracted a substantial number of Scotch-Irish settlers from northern Ireland; nearby Verona had a large number of Scots, and all four townships had many Americans, especially from New York and New England. Germans and Norwegians arrived a few years later.
The landscape throughout was a mixture of woods, prairies, and marshes ideal for family farms of about 40 to 160 acres.
Most farmers grew cereal crops and raised horses, cows, pigs, and poultry. Dairy farms eventually dominated.
The Chicago and North Western Railway route from Madison to Dodgeville and Fennimore that passed through this area was mostly complete by 1882; the Illinois Central Railroad branch from Freeport, Illinois, to Madison was built in the mid-1880s. Summit Station on the I.C. tracks near the present Beltline and Hammersley Road was established in 1888. The North Western closed in the early 1980s; a portion between Verona and Dodgeville became the Military Ridge State Trail. The Illinois Central petitioned to close the Freeport-Madison line in 1980; part of its Madison route is now the Southwest Bike Path.
Proposals for a Beltline Highway to reduce congestion on Madison streets began to appear in the 1930s and were endorsed by city planner Ladislas Segoe in his 1938 report on the future of Madison.
Construction of the Beltline began about 1947 in conjunction with the enlargement and extension of Midvale Boulevard and other Westside streets. The Beltline opened in 1950; extensions and improvements have been nearly continuous since then.
Suburban development south of the Beltline began about 1950 in the Dunn’s Marsh area east of US 18-151 partly in subdivisions that were now bisected by the new highway.
Marlborough Heights is an example. It was platted in 1918 next to Nakoma. Most of the streets are named for locations in England. North of the Beltline are Beverly Road, Doncaster Drive, Warwick Way, and Winslow Lane. South of the Beltline are Avon Road, Lumley Road, Sheffield Road, Milford Road, and Danbury Street.
The portion of Marlborough Heights south of the Beltline became the site of several veterans housing tracts, including some prefabricated houses sold in the Madison area by Silverberg and Sinaiko, Inc.
The northern section of Crawford Heights included Nakoma Park in the Danbury Street, Whenona Drive and Mohawk Drive area. Developers such as Aaron Elkind built a number of veterans houses in Nakoma Park using conventional techniques.
A portion of Crawford Heights is south of the Beltline. Now called “Crawford,” it was long known as “Vikingtown,” the name chosen by developer Axel Lonnquist (1881-1968).
Lonnquist was born in Stockholm, Sweden, emigrated to America in 1901, worked at various places in Canada and the U. S., and was living in the Detroit area by 1920, where he had apparently begun to build houses.
By the mid-1920s he was considered a national expert on suburban developments. He was especially active in Detroit, Chicago, and the Chicago suburbs of Mount Prospect and Franklin Park. By not later than 1942 he owned a house in Madison. In 1950 at age 69 or 70 he decided to build a country hotel and a subdivision both named Vikingtown south of the Beltline in Crawford Heights.
A full-page ad in the Wisconsin State Journal on March 25, 1951, shows the motel and the subdivision just as they are now located.
The streets were named for Lonnquist himself and for family members and associates (though not for his wife Emily, son William, or daughter Audrey). They are Axel Avenue, Hilda Lonnquist Drive, DeVolis Parkway, Britta Parkway, and Helene Parkway. Britta Parkway is for Miss Britta Lonnquist (1908-1989) who lived with the Lonnquists for many years.
Residents soon complained that the name Hilda Lonnquist Drive was confusing; it was changed to Crawford Drive in 1956. The Vikingtown country hotel became the Highlander motel in 1974.
Elsewhere in Crawford, Niemann Place honors Otto A. W. Niemann who was the main developer of Crawford Heights.
A small subdivision, Rosedale, platted in 1917, is south of Marlborough Heights next to Seminole Highway. All of the streets in Rosedale are named for flowers: Windflower Parkway, Lilac Lane, Daisy Lane, and Clover Court.
In the early 1960s Robert B. Brooks (1918-2002) purchased land near U. S. 18-151 just east of the Illinois Central tracks that he thought would be perfect for middle-income apartments.
The Allied Development Corporation, whose president was Neil A. Woodington (1927-1989) purchased this land from Brooks and announced plans to build more than 500 apartment units on a street they called Allied Drive. (Brooks and Woodington had already collaborated on projects such as the Brookwood Shopping Center at the Beltline and Nakoma Road.) Other firms were also active in the area.
Streets in the Allied Drive area include Jenewein Road, which is named for William Jenewein (1927-1995), an Allied officer. Thurston Lane is for Fred “Fuzzy” Thurston (born 1933) who is best known as a left guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967; he was vice-president in another of Jenewein’s businesses, Empire Realty. Lovell Lane is from the maiden name of Allied executive Robert Kelly’s wife. Crotty Road (now Crescent Road) was for Lester Crotty, an Allied salesman.
Rosenberry Road honors Marvin Rosenberry (1868-1956) who was a Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice from 1916 to 1950 and Chief Justice from 1929-1950.
The Belmar area is on land that was an experimental farm operated by the University of Wisconsin from 1950 to 1961; it contains several apartment complexes and many single-family homes from the 1970s and 1980s.
Red Arrow Trail honors the U. S. Army’s 32nd Infantry Division of WWI, WWII, and the postwar period. The 32nd (“we are the Badgers and Wolverines”) was formed from Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units. The divisional insignia is a red arrow piercing a line representing an enemy position.
Sentinel Pass, Aztec Trail, Pawnee Pass, Apache Drive, and Cochise Trail are all Indian-related.
The origin of the name for Carling Drive is not known.
Two new streets that do not appear on many maps as of 2010 are Renaissance Drive and Equity Place, both near the intersection of Red Arrow Trail and Crescent Road.
Dunn’s Marsh is directly south of Crescent Road and the former Chicago and North Western tracks. Neighborhood residents worked for many years to preserve the marsh.
The southern portion of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum is between Dunn’s Marsh and the Arbor Hills subdivision.
The Arbor Heights Development Corporation was formed in 1956. It owned land along the southern edge of the Beltline from about Grandview Boulevard to Todd Drive and south to the Chicago and North Western tracks.
The corporation began to build the Arbor Hills subdivision in the early 1960s starting near the intersection of the Beltline frontage road and Grandview Boulevard. By 1964 houses had been built about halfway up the hill to near Leyton Lane. Grandview was soon connected to Post Road that continued around the hill east toward the railroad tracks near the present Leopold School.
From the beginning Arbor Hills was aimed at an upper-middle income clientele.
Five of the street names in Arbor Hills are geographically descriptive: Grandview Boulevard, Knollwood Way and Court, Greenway View, Westview Lane, and Heatherdell Lane.
Twelve of the street names are for locations in England:
- Ardsley Lane – several areas in Yorkshire
- Ashford Lane – a town in Kent
- Brighton Place – a city in East Sussex
- Coventry Trail – a city in the West Midlands
- Derby Down – a city in the East Midlands
- Essex Court – Essex County
- Irvington Way – several locations throughout England
- Kingston Drive – Kingston-upon-Thames
- Leyton Lane, Circle – an area in London
- Nottingham Way – a city in the East Midlands
- Pelham Road, Court – an area in Birmingham
- Wimbledon Way and Circle – a London suburb
Sandwood Way is for a Scottish beach and loch.
A Todd family farm was located in Section 1 of Fitchburg in the 1920s, so Todd Drive is probably for an area family, as is most likely McDivitt Road.
Landmark Place and Alhambra Place are commercial names. Curry Parkway was the original 1960s name of a large apartment complex.
The origin of Post Road is almost certainly based on the English use of “Post Road” to signify a highway that met standards set by the Royal Mail, hence a road of the highest class.
Churchill Drive may be named for Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the English prime minister.
The Leopold neighborhood takes its name from the Aldo Leopold Elementary School that opened in 1969. Aldo Leopold (1886-1948) was a graduate of the Yale Forest School. He worked for the National Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico for many years and was a supervisor at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison. In 1933, he became the first professor of game management at the University of Wisconsin. He was also a member of the Wisconsin Conservation Commission. Leopold wrote a collection of essays that was first published in 1949 as A Sand County Almanac.
The area around the Leopold School contains a number of duplexes and condominiums, several large 1970s apartment complexes, and a nine-hole golf course. Four streets have fish names inspired by Fish Hatchery Road and the nearby State Fish Hatchery that was established in 1876. These are Turbot Drive, Pike Drive, Coho Street, and Sunfish Court.
Eggiman Street is for Ernest and Helen Eggiman, who were local land owners.
Traceway Drive, Greenway Cross, and Greenway View suggest natural beauty. A mid-1970s extension of Post Road connects the neighborhood to Fish Hatchery Road.
Roads West of U. S. 18-151 before 1950
From the 1840s to the early 1950s all of the roads south of the Beltline and west of U. S. Highways 18 and 151 were named for local families. Examples are Hammersley Road, Schroeder Road, Gilbert Road, and Raymond Road.
The Hammersley family owned several farms. The Schroeders owned land near the present Vitense Golf Land. The east-west portion of Raymond Road is a town line road along the border between the towns of Madison and Fitchburg.
Verona Road (U. S. 18 and 151) is named for its destination in the village of Verona.
Four Major Residential Areas West of U. S. 18-151 – Orchard Ridge, Meadowood, Greentree, and Prairie Hills
John C. McKenna, Sr. (1878-1949) was a Madison developer who is best known on the Westside for his College Hills, Shorewood, Westmorland, and Sunset Village subdivisions. In the 1940s his son John C. McKenna, Jr. (1909-1990) bought land near the intersection of Hammersley Road and the Illinois Central tracks for postwar development.
Substantial development after WWII began when John C. McKenna, Jr. and an associate Charles H. Gill (1912-1961) platted land in the Hammersley Road, Reetz Road, and Whitcomb Drive area. McKenna and Gill called their subdivision, which eventually had 14 additions, Orchard Ridge.
A 1953 aerial photo of a future school site and land owned by the Catholic Diocese of Madison near the Raymond Road and Gilbert Road intersection shows mostly fields and pastures. By 1959 Geological Survey maps show that the school site had become Orchard Ridge Elementary School, the Catholic land had become the St. Maria Goretti congregation, and most of the surrounding area between the Illinois Central tracks to Whitney Way and between Hammersley Road and Raymond Road was filled with single-family houses. These are the boundaries of the present Orchard Ridge neighborhood.
About 1956, the Midland Development Corporation, owned by Abraham Rosenberg of Madison, began to develop land from the Illinois Central tracks to just west of the Meadowood Shopping Center on Raymond Road and south to Meadowood Drive. Meadowood contains mostly single-family houses as well as several apartment complexes west and south of the shopping center. This is the Meadowood neighborhood.
In the early 1960s Robert B. Brooks and Neil A. Woodington began to build the Greentree Estates and Greentree Hills subdivisions west of Whitney Way, north of Hammersley Road, south of Schroeder Road, and east of Frisch Road and Laurie Drive.
Further developments extended the Greentree neighborhood to Saalsaa Road and Arden Lane, its present western borders.
Yet other subdivisions reached the eastern border of Elver Park by the late 1970s. Donald T. McKenna (1912-1994), a brother of John C. McKenna, Jr., was a major developer in this area. His Westvale subdivisions began at Prairie Road and Frisch Roads. The neighborhood between Prairie Road and Frisch Road to Elver Park is often called Prairie Hills.
Street Names in Orchard Ridge
The McKennas had a knack for interesting names. Orchard Ridge carries on the theme of height begun in the 1911 Summit Park subdivision near the Illinois Central Summit Station and in the 1925 Summit Ridge subdivision in the present Reetz Road area. Orchard suggests plenty and the two words together could well have been the name of a local farm.
Six fruit names helped establish the theme. Bartlett Lane is for a pear. Russett Road, Dorsett Drive, Crabapple Lane, Tolman Terrace, and Cortland Circle are for apples.
Reetz Road, Annen Lane, Whitcomb Drive and Circle, and Knox Lane are for individuals and families who owned land in the Hammersley and Reetz Road areas that were the first to be developed.
Stemp Trail, Wicklow Way, Fraust Circle, Flad Avenue, Barton Road, and Lewon Drive are in areas that began to be built up in the mid to late 1950s. City directories of the period show several of these names, but nothing to connect particular families to these streets.
Paul Avenue, Marvin Avenue, and Kenneth Street are probably first names of local families or builders. Lorruth Terrace is said to be a blend of Lorraine and Ruth, office workers for a 1950s developer.
Maria Place is near the Saint Maria Goretti Church.
Freeport Road may be named for Freeport, Illinois, where the Illinois Central branch from Madison joined the main line from Chicago to Galena.
Whitney Way, which runs north all the way to University Avenue, was built in the 1950s in anticipation of residential growth on the Westside. The name was suggested by John C. McKenna, Jr. Whitney Way, which originated in Orchard Ridge, is named for a popular variety of crabapple, “malus domestica, Whitney.”
Street Names in Meadowood
The street names in Meadowood, whose development began about 1956, are quite varied.
Jonquil Road and Iris Lane are for flowers. Tanager Trail, Teal Drive, and Thrush Lane are for birds. Mulberry Lane and Circle, Aspen Road, Balsam Road, Golden Oak Road, Birch Hill Road, and Redwood Lane are for trees.
Mayhill Drive and Idledale Circle are poetic. Monticello Way, for Thomas Jefferson’s house in Virginia, and Manor Green Drive suggest prestige.
Cameron Lane, Denton Place and Circle, and Leland Road and Circle are probably for local owners or builders.
Huegel Court is for the Huegel Elementary School.
Malabar Road must have a private meaning to someone: Malabar is a coastal area in India.
Celia Court honors Celia Rosenberg, who was the wife of Abraham Rosenberg, founder of Midland Development Corporation and mother of Gilbert Rosenberg, an attorney and Midland president.
The wide variety of housing types in Meadowood shows the presence of many builders within the subdivision. These builders probably chose the names for Lynndale Road, Rae Lane, Kroncke Drive, Lannett Circle, Thorn Court, Riva Road, Romay Court, and Tawhee Drive.
Street Names in Greentree
The largest developments in Greentree were Greentree Hills and Greentree Estates, both projects of Robert B. Brooks and his associate Neil A. Woodington. The Allied Development Corporation was also involved for a few years.
Brookwood Road and Woodington Road are for Brooks and Woodington. Hathaway Road is for Mrs. Brooks, whose maiden name was Hatheway Minton, and a daughter Hathaway. Alison Lane is for another daughter. Minton Road is for Mrs. Brooks’ maiden name and the first name of a son.
Robert Brooks attended Yale University in New Haven Connecticut. Mrs. Brooks was a native of New York City and had attended a boarding school in Connecticut. Their eastern experiences influenced the choice of names in Greentree Hills, Greentree Estates, and the parcels to the west.
Piping Rock Road is for the Piping Rock Country Club on Piping Road Road on Long Island. Greentree and Greentree Road are from the Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle, New York. Davenport Drive is from Davenport Road and Davenport Park in New Rochelle.
Dumont Road and Circle may be for a borough in New Jersey. White Oaks Lane may be for the White Oaks Country Club in Newfield, New Jersey. Glenbrook Circle may be for the Glenbrook Golf Club in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania or may have been another way for Brooks to use the family name.
Several other streets are for towns and villages in the New York City region. Saybrook Road is from a town in Connecticut, Shoreham Drive is from a village in Suffolk County on Long Island, Suffolk Road is for the county, and Manhassett Place is for a vacation area on Long Island. Hempstead Road and Place are for a village in Nassau County on Long Island. Montclair Lane may be for a township in New Jersey.
Berkshire Lane may be for a vacation area in western Massachusetts.
Many of the other Greentree streets are for locations in England. Sutton Road is for an area in London. Romford Road is for a town near London. Devon Court is for a county. Salisbury Place is for the cathedral city. Yorkshire Road is for the northern county. Arden Lane is from Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden and Friar Lane, which is in the Sherwood Forest Subdivision, may suggest Robin Hood’s Friar Tuck.
Strathmore Lane is from the Scottish word meaning a “large valley.” Chapel Hill Road is for any of several places in England and the U. S. with that name.
Regis Road and Circle may be for a local family or the name may be for St. Regis who was a 17th century French Jesuit. It may also suggest royalty.
Frisch Road is for a local family. Saalsaa Road is for the Saalsaa family; this is a fairly common Norwegian name.
Sunridge Drive is for a common U. S. place name.
There is no information about Winston Drive and Bradley Place.
Street Names in Prairie Hills
Streets in Prairie Hills with the first names of owners and developers and their families include Betty’s Lane, Jacob’s Way and Court, Cathy Court, Krystana Way, Sara Road, Janie Lane, and Laurie Drive.
Gammon Lane is for a local family. Starr Court, Hoff Court, and Lomax Lane are probably for local residents or builders.
Prairie Road and Piedmont Drive are based on geography. Park Ridge Drive, Park Heights Court, Park Edge Drive, and Park Crest refer to Elver Park which is named for a local family.
Charles Elver (1849-1930) was a Madison businessman. His will contained two important provisions. First, he set aside enough money to support his wife and daughter throughout their lives. Second, he asked that after each had died, the remainder of the money from his estate be used to establish a good-sized public park to be named for the donor.
In 1968, the city used this money to purchase 52 acres on the far west side of Madison for Charles Elver Park. The First Unitarian Society donated 10 acres in 1979 and the park has since grown to about 230 acres.
Birch Hill Drive is the only tree street.
Brittany Place and Cherbourg Court are for areas in France along the English Channel and may have been chosen because they were the sites of major battles during World War II.
A number of streets are named for locations in England and New England. Adderbury Lane and Circle are from a village in Oxfordshire. Putnam Road is for a city and county in Connecticut. Edgartown Court is for a town on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Connecticut Court is for the state. Falmouth Court is for a town in Cornwall, England and a town in Massachusetts. Westbrook Lane and Circle are from a town in Connecticut. Sutton Road is for many locations in England and a town in Massachusetts.
Pilgrim Road refers to the Protestant settlers of New England. Georgetown Court is from a neighborhood in Washington, D. C. Ravenswood Road is for a common English and American place name.
Yorktown Circle is from a port in Virginia where an English fleet surrendered during the American Revolution.
There is no information on New Berm Court. McKenna Boulevard is for Donald T. McKenna.
Streets named for businesses west of U. S. 18-151
By 1972, a commercial district had begun north of Schroeder Road and in the Watts Road, Seybold Road, and Struck Street area. These are all named for local residents.
Forward Drive, is for Forward Television, Inc., the first owner of television station WMTV; broadcasts began in 1953.
Rayovac Drive is for a manufacturer of dry cell batteries that were made in Madison for many years. The present company’s headquarters are on Rayovac Drive.
Ellis Potter Court honors Ellis C. Potter (1890-1990), a Madison architect who designed the Masonic Temple and the Dane County Coliseum. His son’s architectural firm was located on this court.
Public Schools West of U. S. 18-151
The Orchard Ridge Elementary School opened in 1958; a junior high school was added in 1963.
The Philip H. Falk Elementary School on Woodington Way is named for Philip H. Falk (1898-1986), who was Madison School Superintendent from 1939 to 1962. The school opened in 1963.
The Ray W. Huegel Elementary School on Prairie Road is named for Dr. Ray W. Huegel (1890-1969), a dentist and member of the school board from 1934 to 1968. The school opened in 1966.
In 1993 the Madison School Board changed the name of Orchard Ridge Middle School to Akira R. Toki Middle School. Akira R. Toki (born 1916) is a Madison native who fought in Italy and France with the U. S. Army in World War II and who has been a member and leader of many veterans groups.
“Toki” is probably most respected for having served as a volunteer for 23,000 hours at the Madison Veterans Hospital over a period of 58 years.
Personal observations, conversations with local residents, plat maps, real estate atlases, city directories, and phone directories were major sources for this article as were articles, advertisements, and legal notices in The Capital Times and the Wisconsin State Journal. Online databases accessible through the South Central Library System included Ancestry Library, Newspaper Archive, and the Wisconsin State Journal Subject Index.
Dane County Place-Names by Frederic G. Cassidy (1947, enlarged edition 1968, most recent printing Madison, 2009) was extremely helpful.
In Our Own Words: The Best of the Dunn’s Marsh News, editor Mary Mullen (Madison, 1990) contains an essay by Mary Mullen on all of the subdivisions in Dunn’s Marsh, along with much street name information, some of which was provided by Robert Brooks.
The topographic map details are from the U. S. Geological Survey 1983 Madison West map in 1:24,000 scale. The aerial photos are from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Web Soil Survey with markings added by the authors.