Historic Madison Properties
Madison has been a hub for architecture and history for centuries. It’s a mecca for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prarie School design. There is an abundance of famous, historic homes in our beautiful city. If you’re a history buff (and a home lover!) like us, here are a few famous Madison Homes to check out the next time you’re looking for something different to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The Eugene Gilmore House
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867. Now he’s revered as one of America’s most famous architects. Many Frank Lloyd Wright houses are located in his home state. Lloyd referred to this home as the “airplane house” because it stands tall and vertical. It’s a direct contrast to his flat, horizontal “prairie home” design style. The home was commissioned in 1908 by Eugene Gilmore, a local Law Professor. One of the most unique features of the home is the living room space located on the second floor. This grants the living space panoramic views of downtown Madison and the four lakes region. You can find the Eugene Gilmore House at 120 Ely Place in the University Heights Historic District of Madison.
Robert Lamp House
The Robert Lamp House was built in 1903. Lamp was a childhood friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. They became the best of friends after a schoolyard fight in 1879. It was meaningful to Lamp that Wright build his home. But actually, during this time Wright was tied up with too many projects. So he designed the home for his friend but politely declined the building project. He let Lamp build the home himself. The home is located in downtown Madison, yet the design gives it a secluded feel. The most notable feature is a rooftop garden that grants views of Lake Mendota. Its boxy shape marks the transition between Chicago School style of design and the Prairie School style of design. You can check out the house at 22 North Butler Street in Madison.
Fun fact: we feel a special connection to Robert “Robie” Lamp because he was a career realtor!
Sanatorium Hill is a different kind of famous property. Some believe it is Madison’s most haunted property. This building is an old tuberculosis sanatorium. It housed TB patients from 1930-1960. Its brick exterior is a classically imposing horror visage. The woods behind the Sanatorium are home to the strongest reports of paranormal activity in the city. There have been reports of visitors passing through cold and hot spots. Some report apparitions and strange lights. A few even claim to be touched by “phantom hands”. If you’re feeling nervous about exploring this area, take your best friend with you. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails. The tree-specked trails of Lake View Park are actually quite lovely.
If you’re trying to find Sanatorium Hill, Google Maps seems to have jumped on board with the mystery of the place. Google Maps shows it residing on “Unnamed Road”. But here are the GPS coordinates for all you thrill-seekers out there.
The Governor’s Mansion Inn and Cafe
This gorgeous 4,832-square-foot building overlooks Lake Mendota. It’s built from sandstone from a local quarry. This property has been home to 17 Wisconsin governors. In 1951, the building was repurposed. It became a residential unit for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was renamed Knapp House in honor of Kemper K. Knapp, a benefactor, and advocate of the University. It housed graduate students for more than 50 years. In 2016, it was sold to Bob Klebba and David Waugh, who renovated and redeveloped it as a boutique hotel. Now you can stay in this charming inn for as little as $99/ night. Occasionally they’ll throw events here. If you’re looking for a special and unique night out on the town, keep an eye on The Governor’s Mansion. Most recently, the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation threw their annual soiree at the mansion. You can visit the mansion at 130 E. Gilman Street in Madison.
The Herbert and Katherine Jacobs Home
This Frank Lloyd Wright House is the first and purest example of Usonian Concept Design. Usonian Homes claim “organic architecture” as their primary feature. They incorporate nature into their structural foundation. The houses appear to be emerging directly from the earth. Their faces are unimpeded by necessary elements like foundations, porches, or chimneys. Instead, they open up to the elements and incorporate wide open spaces. Usonian homes are built only from natural elements of wood, stone, and sun-baked clay. 140 Usonian homes followed the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs Home. One of the most memorable features of this home is a finely crafted “reflecting design” on the ceiling. This design is built from imported ponderosa pine and redwoods. You can check out this landmark home at 441 Toepfer Avenue near the Glenway Golf Course.
Curtis- Kittleson House
This imposing brick home was built in 1901 for William Dexter Curtis, a future Madison mayor. In 1949 it was purchased by another mayor of Madison, Isaac Milo Kittleson. Its most notable feature is a towering brick tourette. This gives the home a castle-like feel. Its architecture has a Queen Anne Chateau style that is a sight to behold. It’s located at 1102 Spaight Street in the Orton Park Historic District.
Historic Homes for Sale
Are you interested in owning a historic home? Shoot me an email for a list of Madison Historic Homes for sale or to schedule a tour. If you’re just interested in looking, you can also schedule an official Frank Lloyd Wright Tour here.