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Phi Kappa Psi

Phi Kappa Psi

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-58151

State Street Houses

A century ago, State Street was still heavily residential.

The Madison Democrat of May 22, 1900 carried a number of ads for houses on State Street: a good, 8-room, modern house on State Street near the University for less than $4,500; a 10-room house on State Street with modern improvements, near the University, for $3,600; a 10-room house on State Street, with all the modern improvements, full lot, barn, for about $6,000.

Between 1846 and 1847, Lafayette Kellogg, who came to Madison in 1839 and served as clerk of the territorial and state supreme court from 1840 to 1878, built a two-story red brick house with a spacious lawn at the corner of State and West Dayton streets. When razed in 1905, it was one of the last three territorial-era houses remaining in Madison. It was torn down by a syndicate including UW professors Richard T. Ely and Frederick Turneaure, UW President Charles Van Hise, and developer J. M. Boyd, who erected a $25,000, two-story building containing two stores and six apartments on the site. The Kellogg plot was large enough to contain five business lots, each 22 feet in width.

Kellogg’s land extended to the neighboring home of Julius Shadauer. By 1926 Shadauer’s was the last residence left in the first four blocks of State Street. That year it was leveled and replaced with the Orpheum Theater.

Meanwhile, in 1922, at the western end of the street, the Phi Psis tore down the home built by John Sterling at 811 State Street in 1870. Sterling was a member of the first UW faculty in 1848, admitted John Muir in 1861, opened the UW to women in 1863, and retired as vice president in 1885. His wife Harriet was known as the “mother of the University.” Their house was two stories in height, with a double cream brick wall, three marble fireplaces, and silver door knockers etched with John Sterling’s name. Great oak trees shaded the spacious lawn, with apple and hickory trees in back yard. There were a small cottage and barn facing the house in back. The Psi Psis bought the house in 1907, and replaced the strawberry bed in the back yard with a tennis court. The house cost them $19,000.

Mark Gajewski