The Origins of Some Madison, Wisconsin, Street Names
By Burr Angle, Dolores Kester, and Ann Waidelich
Copyright © Burr Angle 2010
Please credit the source if you use this resource - thank you!
Part X - The Origins of Some Southside Madison, Wisconsin, Street Names
This article examines the origins of street, school, and park names in five portions of Madison’s Southside. Four of the neighborhoods are within an area bordered by Monona Bay on the north, Fish Hatchery Road on the west, Lake Monona on the east, and the Beltline Highway (U. S. 12 and 18) on the south. They are South Madison (also known as Bay Creek since about 1990), Bram’s Addition, Burr Oaks, and Capitol View. The fifth neighborhood, Waunona, is located between the former Milwaukee Road tracks on the west to the Yahara River on the east, and from the shore of Lake Monona to the Beltline Highway on the south.
South Madison, Bram’s Addition, Burr Oaks, and Capitol View were originally in the Town of Madison and several portions still are, although they will become part of the City of Madison when the Town will cease to exist in about 2020.
A small part of Waunona near the former Milwaukee Road tracks was also in the Town of Madison. All of the rest was in the Town of Blooming Grove.
In the 1840s and 1850s a few farmers, fishermen, and laborers shared the South Madison area with Winnebago Indians, who hunted deer, gathered fruits and grains, and fished in Lakes Wingra and Monona.
By the 1860s there were several permanent houses and one mansion. Most of the houses were near Monona Bay; the mansion was on a tall hill where the Romnes senior apartments are now located. The population grew slowly during the 1870s and into the 1880s. Most of the present subdivisions and their streets were begun during the late 1890s and early 1900s. The 1923 population was about 1200 when most of the voters in South Madison chose to join the City.
A 1911 map of South Madison shows the subdivisions established to that time. Grand View, platted in 1889, is west of Oregon Road (now South Park Street) and has one named street, High Street, probably in the English sense of the most important or main street. As of 2010, there is still a High Street a few blocks to the north. The 2010 streets are Spruce Street, Garden Street, South Street, Appleton Road, and West Wingra Drive. Plaenert Drive is on the south bank of Wingra Creek.
Wingra Creek runs from Lake Wingra (Winnebago for duck) to Lake Monona. It has also been known as Murphy’s Creek and simply “the canal.” Plaenert Drive is named for the Plaenert family who lived in South Madison for many years. Walter L. Plaenert (1892-1985) was a grocer, church director, and alderman.
The South Madison subdivision, also platted in 1889, is shown on the 1911 map east of Oregon Street (usually called Oregon Road), south of Monona Bay; and west of the mansion hill shown on the map as a large area owned by T. C. Richmond, hence Richmond Hill. Its southern limit is Pond Street. M. M. Pond owned land at the corner of Oregon Road and Pond Street in 1890. Pond Street extends from Oregon Road to the Chicago and North Western Railway tracks.
Bay Street is a short distance south of Monona Bay. Lakeside Street runs from Oregon Street almost to the Lake Monona shore. Lakeside had already become the main street of South Madison. An extension of the Park Street trolley tracks ran along Lakeside Street from 1906 until 1933, when buses replaced street railways.
Three streets honor American writers and poets. Emerson Street is for Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). Whittier is for John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), and Lowell is for James Russell Lowell (1819-1891).
Pond Street extended from Park Street to Gilson Street until the early 1920s when it became part of Olin Avenue. John M. Olin (1851-1924) was a founder and president of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association that was established in 1892 and dissolved in 1938.
The Woodlawn subdivision platted in 1898 extended from Oregon Road to the C & NW tracks south of Pond Street. Woodlawn had Spruce, Cedar, Pine, and Maple Streets. Maple Street in Woodlawn later became part of Gilson Street, which is probably named for a local family of Swedish origin.
A small subdivision, Oak Lawn, between Richmond Hill and the C & NW tracks north of Pond Street is located on both sides of Gilson Street.
Clarence Court, probably named for a local resident, is the only street in the Maticwaup subdivision that was platted by T. H. and Bessie Brand in 1906. Maticwaup was their spelling of a Chippewa word meaning a “gathering place for getting water.”
On the 1911 map Lake Street is east of Maticwaup in the 1901 Hildreth addition. Lake Street was later renamed Lake Court.
Lawrence Street is in the Monona subdivision platted by George S. Lawrence in 1899. George Lawrence (1852-1912) was born in England but lived in Madison for most of his life.
He built a house in the Lawrence Street area sometime around 1870. He was a stone mason and part-time deputy game warden.
O’Sheridan Street and Bresland Court are for Daniel O’Sheridan and his wife Elizabeth whose maiden name was Bresland. Their daughter Mary Grant O’Sheridan (1859-1932) became a writer and poet. She is the author of the article from the Wisconsin State Journal, August 1, 1895. The O’Sheridans lived in the area about the same time as George Lawrence. Homer Court, Colby Street, and Sayle Street are also for early South Madison residents.
The Pleasant View subdivision of 1889 is east of the C & NW tracks south of Lakeside Street. It contains Rowell Street, Potter Street, and Van Deusen Streets, all probably named for local families.
Bellevue Park, platted in 1909 east of the Milwaukee Road tracks, had no named streets in 1911. In 2010 there were Edgewater Court, Lakeside Drive, and Lakeshore Court. Bellevue Park was the site of the Madison Sanitarium at the north end of present Edgewater Court. The Sanitarium opened in 1902 and closed in 1932.
The land south of Olin Avenue was a swamp until the mid-1930s when several hundred CWA and WPA workers dismantled the Richmond mansion and moved at least 40,000 cubic yards of dirt from Richmond Hill to fill the swamp, creating Franklin Field.
The partially leveled Richmond Hill then became a frequent location of the South Side Men’s Club annual summer South Side Frolic that was held from 1933 to 1953. The Frolic was a community festival that attracted up to 40,000 visitors each year.
The CWA and WPA workers also helped to clear the Wingra Creek area, creating Wingra Creek Parkway.
John Nolen Drive and Causeway opened in 1967 completing the road network. John Nolen (1869-1937) was a well-known landscape gardener and city planner who was often hired by Madison area developers and the City of Madison. His book, Madison, a Model City, was published in 1911.
From the 1890s through the 1930s a number of Madison developers specialized in homes for the working man. Clyde A. Gallagher, for instance, built hundreds of small to medium houses both singly and in his own subdivisions. His houses were simple but well built on good sized lots. Several young men of the period such as John C. McKenna also began their real estate careers selling lots and small houses in suburban areas; “suburban” meaning beyond the Madison city limits.
Workingman’s developments of the period included the Fairview addition of 1907 and the Bram (also Bram’s) Addition of 1908, both located south of Wingra Creek between Oregon Road (Park Street) and the C & NW tracks south to Buick Street. The lots in both subdivisions were about 40 feet wide by 130 feet deep on pleasantly hilly, well-drained land. The prices were somewhat lower than for the same size lots elsewhere in the Madison area. A Bram family had lived in the area for some years.
The 1911 map shows no named streets in these two sister areas. The 1920 City of Madison map shows Kenward Street, First Avenue, and Second Avenue in Fairview. First Avenue later became part of Fisher Street, the main road in Bram’s Addition. Second Avenue became Baird Street, which is also in Bram’s Addition. Fisher and Baird are probably for local residents, as are Buick Street and Taft Street. There is still a Third Avenue in Bram’s Addition.
Fairview joined the City of Madison in 1923 at the same time as South Madison. Bram’s Addition was annexed in 1948.
In 1948 and 1949 Park Street between Cedar Street and Oak Street was moved a few hundred feet to the west, its present location. The old section was left in place and required a new name. In 1949 the Madison Common Council chose Beld for Sam Beld who had lived at 1806 South Park Street for many years, who had been active in civic affairs, and who died in 1948.
Samuel Beld (1877-1948) was born in Norway and moved to the United States in 1900. He was a construction worker. He and his wife Mary had eight children. By December 1942 four of the sons were in the armed forces and the Belds received a gold medal from Madison Mayor Law for their family’s war efforts. All of the sons returned to Madison after the war.
The phrase Capitol View may have been chosen about 1960 by Charles H. Gill for his Capitol View Heights subdivision on Ardmore Street. Ardmore may have been named for a local resident or may have been Gill’s idea of a nice sounding name.
Development in the area had begun many years earlier. The first area to be platted was Hammersley Heights in 1907 on land owned by E. C. Hammersley between the C & NW tracks and Koster Street. The Koster family were long-time residents. Hammersley divided the heavily forested land into large lots. The trees are still there, as are a number of houses built from about 1910 through the 1960s.
Elsewhere in Capitol View, Sunny Meade Lane is poetic. Capitol View Terrace is geographically descriptive, and Cliff Court is for the local terrain. Sundstrom Road is probably for a local family.
A trailer park now called Madison Mobile Homes Park was begun about 1960 by the Madison Mobile Homes Company, a Madison area house trailer dealership. It sits on top of a large hill overlooking the Beltline Highway. All but one of the streets are named for flowers: Crocus Circle, Honeysuckle Lane, Marigold Lane, Lily Drive, and so on.
The exception is Sirloin Strip which was named for Hanna’s 77 Sirloin Strip restaurant that opened in April 1960. It was located in a large building adjoining the trailer park. The restaurant’s specialty was sirloin strip steaks. The “77” comes from the title of a private detective television series from 1958 to 1964 that was set in Los Angeles and called 77 Sunset Strip.
The restaurant became Dalton’s 77 Sirloin Strip in 1994 and in 2010 was Mediterranean Hookah Lounge and Café complete with belly dancers.
The Oak Ridge and Burr Oaks neighborhood covers the area between South Park Street and Fish Hatchery Road from North Avenue to West Badger Road. Fish Hatchery Road was sometimes also called Fitchburg Road.
Oak Ridge was platted in 1908 as a workingman’s subdivision. North Avenue is the northern border of Oak Ridge. Taylor Street is probably for a local resident. Burr Oak Lane was once simply Oak Street. The origin of Old Park is unknown; it was never part of Madison’s Park Street. Ridgewood Way was once Ridgewood Street. Dane Street, named for the county, was once Fitch Street for the Fitch family, one of the oldest in Madison.
From 1928 until 1954 or 1955 Burr Oaks was a nine-hole public golf course. Residential construction on the former course began soon after it closed and continued into the late 1970s.
Most of the streets in the Burr Oaks subdivision are named for trees: Catalpa Road and Circle, Sequoia Trail, Hackberry Lane, Magnolia Lane and Circle, and Cypress Way. West Badger Road is for the animal and the nickname for citizens of Wisconsin. It was once named Bryant Springs Road for the Bryant family that owned much land in the area. The Bryant family land contained a spring that was the source of sparkling water sold by their Silver Spring Water Company established in 1895. Their Silver Spring water was said to be remarkably tasty and refreshing. Hughes Place is probably for an owner or local resident.
The origins of Alrita Court, Petra Place, Parker Street, Perry Street, Adeline Circle, and Ann Street are not known but were almost certainly chosen by builders from the 1950s to the 1970s, probably to honor their families.
The Waunona area extends from the Lake Monona shore to the Beltline Highway and from the former Milwaukee Road tracks near Turville Bay to the Yahara River. “Waunona” is a blend of Waubesa and Monona. In 1916 a steamer serving tourists and residents on lakes Monona and Waubesa was named “Waunona.” The term was probably used before then. It was apparently first used to describe the areas generally known as Esther Beach and Hoboken Beach about 1937 by Frank Weston, a Madison insurance man and Hoboken Beach resident.
Waunona voters chose not to join the Village of Monona when the village was created in 1938. They voted to join the City of Madison in 1954.
From about the 1860s until the late 1920s and early 1930s the Waunona area was economically part of the Lake Monona complex of lakeside resorts, hotels, hospitals, cottages, and entertainment pavilions. Several names from this period are still in use.
For example, Esther Beach Road is named for Esther Beach, which was a summer resort, restaurant, dance hall, and boat rental operated by the Askew brothers from about 1900. Esther was Charles Askew’s daughter.
Ethelwyn Road is for the Ethelwynn Park subdivision that was named for local resident Miss Ethelwynn Anderson.
Hoboken Road is named for Hoboken, New Jersey, the hometown of a Waunona cottage owner.
Weber Drive is for William Weber who owned a farm on that location before 1900. Harriman Lane was named for Mrs. H. W. Harriman. Raywood Road is for the Raywood Heights subdivision of 1900 platted by Raymond R. Frazier and his wife, whose maiden name was Wood.
Greenleaf Drive, Wild Oak Circle, and Waunona Woods Court may have been named by developers.
Simpson Street, named for land owner Homer V. Simpson (1902-1965), was changed to Lake Point Drive in the late 1990s when an apartment complex previously known as Broadway-Simpson or just Simpson was updated and renamed Lake Point.
In the mid-1980s when an expansion of the Beltline Highway was being planned, Bertha Speranza, a resident whose property would be affected, named a new street Nana Lane because that is what she was called by her grandchildren. Metropolitan Lane is for the Metropolitan Mall that opened in 1973.
Gisholt Road is near the former Royal Airport is on land previously owned by the Gisholt Machine Company of Madison. Fayette Road is named for Fayette Durlin who platted the area in 1904.
Parallel Street is parallel to West Broadway. South Towne Drive is for a shopping center.
Quinn Circle is for Edgar “Pim” Quinn (1895-1983), a 1913 Central High School graduate who built a subdivision near the Royal Airport. He owned a restaurant for many years. In 1926 he and Howard Morey built Royal Airport.
Woodley Lane and Engle Street are probably for local residents.
Southside Schools, Parks, and Other Areas
Franklin Elementary School
In many areas of the United States settlers built schools even before churches. The same was probably true in South Madison where several schools were established before 1900. By about 1910, the South Madison School was a large building apparently located between Lakeside Street and Potter Street near Rowell Street.
At some time before 1920 the South Madison School also became known as the Franklin School, for Benjamin Franklin. An article in The Capital Times on April 22, 1920 talks of the “South Madison Franklin School.” Construction of the new Franklin School building began in 1922 and continued in phases for several years. There was an addition about 1930.
Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
The Abraham Lincoln Junior High School opened in 1965 to serve the rapidly growing population of Bram’s Addition, Burr Oaks, and adjoining areas. It became Lincoln Elementary School in 1979.
James C. Wright Middle School
James Coleman Wright (1926-1995) was born in South Carolina where he attended Mather Academy, rated as one of the best schools in the state. He later studied at several theological seminaries as well as Wilberforce University and the University of Wisconsin. He and his wife Jacqueline moved to Madison in the early 1960s. From 1990 until his death he was pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church and was a City of Madison employee from 1968 to 1992 in several capacities including Director of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
The James C. Wright Middle School opened in 1997.
Dane County Expo Center/Alliant Energy Center
In 1896 the Dane County Agricultural Society and Dane County bought 250 acres of land south of Wingra Creek near the Lake Monona shore. An oval race track came first, followed by a number of buildings for the annual county fair.
The Arena opened in 1954, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 1967, and the Exhibition Hall in 1995.
In 2000, Alliant Energy Corp., a Madison-based public utility holding company, bought naming rights so that the entire 164-acre property is now called the Alliant Energy Center.
About six acres of land near the intersection of Koster Street and Rusk Street was sold to Dane County in 1966 by Freda Lyckberg, a Koster Street resident. The land became a neighborhood park. Lyckberg Park is now entirely within the Alliant Energy Center property but the park is still used by local children.
Bernie’s Beach is a 1.4 acre swimming beach at the corner of South Shore Drive and Gilson Street. It is named for Bernard Julius Holtman (1904-1980) who owned Bernie’s Grocery and Market at 334 West Lakeside Street from 1945 to 1980. Children often bought snacks at Bernie’s before heading to the beach.
Holtman was active in South Madison civic affairs, especially the South Side Men’s Club.
Franklin Field/Goodman Park
Franklin Field, for Benjamin Franklin and the Franklin School, originated in the mid-1930s when several hundred CWA and WPA workers moved at least 40,000 cubic yards of dirt from Richmond Hill to fill a swamp south of Olin Avenue.
As of 2010 the former Franklin Field area contained an ice skating rink, a swimming pool, softball fields, playgrounds, and several City of Madison offices and shops. The recreational areas are now named for Irwin A. Goodman (1915-2009) and Robert D. Goodman (1919-2010). The Goodman brothers were Madison jewelers whose donations helped build the pool.
Duane F. Bowman Sr. Field
The 24-acre Bowman Field is near Fish Hatchery Road south of the James C. Wright Middle School. It is named for Duane F. Bowman, Sr. (1897-1984) who was a minor league baseball player in the 1920s, a director of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, a Madison area civic leader, a dairy farmer, and a dairy industry leader.
Olin-Turville Park, Turville Point
The Olin-Turville Park and Turville Point Conservation Park are located on about 120 acres of the western shore of Lake Monona. Olin Park was named for John Myers Olin (1851-1924), a founder and president of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association, shortly after his death. Olin Park had earlier been known as “Monona.” It was the site of recreational, religious, and educational activities including Wisconsin Sunday School Association summer encampments.
The Turville family owned land south of Olin Park all the way to Turville Bay. The City of Madison eventually acquired this land to enlarge Olin Park and create Olin-Turville Park and the Turville Point Conservation Park about 1980.
Quann Park near the Alliant Energy Center has grown over the years to 55 acres. It contains athletic fields, tennis courts, a dog park, exhibitor parking for events at the Alliant Energy Center, and a community garden.
It is named for Michael J. Quann (1885-1962) who helped establish the Vilas Park Zoo and beach. He was Madison’s first city forester and Madison Park Superintendent from 1918 to 1941.
Jessica Bullen Orchard and Quiet Garden
The Jessica Bullen Orchard and Quiet Garden is at the corner of Bram Street and Koster Street near the Quann Community Garden. It was built by friends of Jessica Bullen who loved gardening. She died at age 29 on July 3, 2005, from injuries while biking a few days before in the Town of Cottage Grove. She had recently completed graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin.
In 1948 Clifford Penn (1901-1995), owner of the Penn Electric Company, built a baseball field in Bram’s Addition for use by his Penn Electric’s and other baseball teams. He sold the park to the City of Madison in 1953.
Rose and Morris Heifetz Park
Heifetz Park on Burr Oak Lane in the Town of Madison began about 1957 when Morris Heifetz (1901-1984) set aside a few acres of land behind his junk yard south of Wingra Creek as a playground for neighborhood children. The Town of Madison took over the land in 1967 and renamed the area Rose and Morris Heifetz Park in 1979 to honor Morris and his wife.
The junk yard was operated for many years by Morris’s son Ben and is now All Metals Recycling.
Kenneth Newville Park
Kenneth Newville Park is a .4 acre site at the corner of Beld Street and Bram Street. Kenneth Newville was a longtime resident of Bram’s Addition and a pastor at St. Paul AME Church, 402 East Mifflin Street.
Cypress Spray Park
The Genevieve Gorst Herfurth Cypress Spray Park at the corner of Cypress Way and Magnolia Lane opened in 2007. It contains water sprinklers to help children cool off on summer days.
Genevieve Gorst Herfurth (1888-1943) was the wife of Theodore Herfurth, a Madison business leader who established a foundation in her memory.
Esther Beach at 2802 Waunona Way is now less than an acre but was once one of the most popular recreation areas on the Madison lakes.
About 1900 the Askew brothers Charles, William, and Samuel, who had operated a fleet of steamers on the Madison lakes since the 1870s, took over an entertainment pavilion that they named Esther Beach in memory of Charles Askew’s daughter. Samuel Askew lived at Esther Beach.
Esther Beach was later operated by Alva Thompson, who renamed the resort Hollywood at the Beach. Le Roy Andersen and Rudolph R. Rehs then operated the dance hall portion from the 1930s until about 1945. All of the buildings were gone by 1947 or 1948.
A. O. Paunack Park and Marsh
A. O. Paunack Conservation Marsh and A. O. Paunack neighborhood park near Bridge Road are named for August O. Paunack (1879-1954), a Madison banker, developer, theater and radio station owner, and conservationist who owned land in the area.
Waunona Park is a 5-acre neighborhood park at 5323 Raywood Road.
Thut (pronounced “toot”) Park covers 8 acres near Nana Lane and is named for a Woodley Lane resident, Sam Thut (1901-1994) who in 1989 donated a parcel of land near his house that provides a safe pedestrian entrance to the park from Woodley Lane.
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.
The article by Walter Plaenert from the September 24, 1939 Wisconsin State Journal is reproduced courtesy of Madison Newspapers, Inc.
The map titled “South Madison” is from the Standard Historical Atlas of Dane County, Wisconsin, Cantwell Printing Company, Madison, 1911. The original image is tinted in several colors and can be viewed with the rest of the atlas through the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection. The cover illustration is taken from portions of several maps in this atlas.
An article by JoAnn Tiedemann at the Waunona Neighborhood Assocation’s web site (search “Waunona”) gives a history of the Waunona neighborhood with much information about street names.
Special thanks to Jack and Ruth Ann Bauhs. Chris Wagner at the Goodman South Madison Public Library was very helpful.
The topographic map details are from the U. S. Geological Survey 1983 Madison West and Madison East maps in 1:24,000 scale.