Neighborhood Spotlight: Maple Bluff
Also known as the Village of Maple Bluff, this neighborhood sits just above the isthmus. Maple Bluff is a waterfront community. It’s great for families wanting to be near Lake Mendota and those that love living in an area where no two homes look alike. Residents are surrounded by outdoor recreation while still being close to downtown. This north shore neighborhood is one of the most magical and exciting places in Madison. Locals describe it as being straight out of a fairytale. Mature maples line the streets, shedding brightly colored leaves every autumn. To purchase a home in Maple Bluff is to buy part of history.
History of Maple Bluff
The Winnebago tribe first occupied this area of the Lake Mendota region. They loved the mature trees and dense forest. The landscape kept them safe from any wildfires that swept north.
The first settler of this area was James Douglas McBride, an Irish immigrant in 1803. He loved the site so much that he bought 500 acres of land along the lake immediately and settled there. He built a large Italianate red brick house. You can see his namesake sprinkled throughout the village. Most recently opened is McBride Point, a sophisticated luxury apartment building in town across James Madison Park. You can also find the historic Governor’s Mansion in Maple Bluff.
Architecture in Maple Bluff
This neighborhood has a variety of unique architectural styles, especially along Cambridge Road. On this promenade, you can find:
- Prairie Style
Prairie Style was born in Chicago around 1900 out of the daydreams of a group of ambitious architects. Most famously, Frank Lloyd Wright helped develop its signature look. Prairie Style melded ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement and mixed it with an emphasis on nature. Prairie-style homes have simplistic craftsmanship, accentuate Midwest landscapes and draw attention to sprawling horizon lines.
- Shingle Style
Shingle style is distinctly homey and features wood construction materials that blend into natural surroundings. These homes are often asymmetrical and colorful and have many porches, balconies, and large windows.
- Mediterranean Revival
This architecture style attempts to capture the lushness of a Mediterranean villa. It captures many styles and designs to achieve its aesthetic. It can be a combination of Venetian, renaissance, and Spanish revival styles. Often they incorporate red brick roof tiles and stucco.
- French Norman Revival
This design trend gets its inspiration directly from Normandy, France. Its primary feature is a central tower or turret to give the home character. Historically, living quarters attached to barns and grain silos out of necessity. Now, these castle-like turrets give homes an immense amount of charm.
If you’re interested in knowing more, you can take an hour and fifteen-minute walking tour of this area, put on by Madison Trust. They may even let you in on the secret of why the Village of Maple Bluff never officially became part of Madison.
Lake recreation is alive in Wisconsin summers. Maple Bluff is home to several parks that give the neighborhood a lively feel.
This park is a popular area for swimming and picnicking. Features of the park include:
- A covered stone patio
- Playground equipment
- Roped off swimming area
- Diving raft
- Tennis courts
This park’s primary features are two cabins used by local boy and girl scouts. They also have a sandbox and playground equipment, both new and nostalgic (thanks to a good-old-fashioned tire swing!)
This park is an excellent place for any frisbee-golf lovers. It offers a 6-hole course, dog park, and a scenic gazebo available for weddings.
Marina Park is a small but scenic waterfront park with shoreline views of Lake Mendota and the Maple Bluff Marina. There are boat slips and storage spaces for both larger boats and kayaks.
McBride Park is a classic family park with lots for young children to do. There are two playgrounds, swing sets, sandboxes, and basketball courts.
The Maple Bluff community center is a hot-spot for community life. They host fitness classes regularly. They also have a stand-up-paddleboard sharing program and sailing clubs for kids.
The soul of the social scene at Maple Bluff lives at the country club. It’s a private club with an 18-hole golf course. It’s the regular practice course of pro golfer Jerry Kelly. The club was built in 1899. It has managed to keep its historic appeal while also adding modern amenities. There is an 8-lane swimming pool, waterfront restaurant, tennis courts, and fitness center.
The Maple Bluff community keeps a regular calendar of events. One of the village favorites is its Fourth of July celebration, a tradition that began in 1951. This celebration is an all-day event that begins with a 5k run in the morning, softball games and a parade in the afternoon, and fireworks in the evening. Drinks, food, and fun are bountiful at this annual celebration!
Bear & Bottle
A cozy spot that is great for a quick bite, watching the game, or a relaxing happy hour.
Cafe la Bellitalia
An Italian bistro that will satisfy your cravings for deep dish pizza.
Kavanaugh’s Esquire club
A homey steak and seafood joint that’s been a staple of Madison since 1947.
Homes For Sale In Maple Bluff
Does Maple Bluff sound like a place you would feel at home? Check out the active listings for this neighborhood here.