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Question for the town history crowd

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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby barney » Wed May 18, 2011 10:24 pm

weren't those buildings were the first Paisan's was?
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby snoqueen » Wed May 18, 2011 11:13 pm

I remember the plywood -- I was here as a summer student at the time though I didn't move to Madison for good until '69. The graffiti on it was a mix of art-student and Vietnam war political, and some of it was really good, like poetry. Period photos of the mall-facing part of the wall would be a treasure. The former little buildings on Clymer Place were cool. Some were made of stone like North and South Halls further up Bascom Hill, it seems to me. A wonderful student artists' quarter -- you can imagine the students were sad to see them torn down, and of course everyone hated Humanities from Day One.

There were more small, rather quaint student houses on Francis Street between University and State, where the parking ramp is now. You can still see the peak and rooftop of the last one buried behind the store that's maybe next to the Brathaus on the corner of State and Francis. And somewhere (up Gilman a ways? I can't remember) was a notorious 3-story student dwelling called the Batch, short for bachelors. It was men's housing (students supposedly lived sex-segregated even off campus, though things were changing rapidly by the late 60s) and the Batch was the worst (or best) of the lot as far as wretched student-grubbiness/ambiance went. On Francis Street next to the Red Shed was a small surface parking lot that held precisely 22 cars. This, believe it or not, was sufficient for the needs of the time and shows you the change in population and living scale that's taken place in 40+ years.

I do remember some graffiti that turned up a few years later when the Howard Johnsons hotel (now it's the Doubletree or something) went up on West Dayton in the block down from the Nitty Gritty. The students were resentful of a big ugly hotel taking out part of the main student neighborhood. At the same time, on New Years of about 1970, someone (possibly Karl Armstrong's group but no one ever claimed the crime or was indicted) burned down Old Main hall at UW Whitewater. The unknown perps were nicknamed the New Years gang. Students here wished they'd burn down the disliked Howard Johnsons instead, so someone wrote on the south wall of the building NEW YEARS GANG WHERE ARE YOU?


The hobo jungle where Fordem Ave. is:

This was next to the Chicago Northwestern railroad tracks, which are still present. West of the tracks is a rough triangle of land extending to Tenney Park on its west and tapering narrower where Lakewood Gardens apartments/condos are, behind Sherman Terrace (itself believed to have started as housing for Truax soldiers after WW II).

The triangle was then undeveloped and full of box elder trees. I think it was earlier a hill -- a drumlin, like the remaining one south of Tenney park -- and it had been leveled to fill the Great Central Marsh along E. Wash or even to create Tenney Park at the turn of the last century. (Someone else knows when that happened and where the dirt went). You could always tell that scraped-over land because mostly weed-trees grow there and it's oddly flat in a terrain that's otherwise undulating.

Anyway, in this scraped-over area full of box elders in the late 60s-70s you'd find little camps, with crude tents and a place for a fire and the belongings of the residents arranged here and there. They probably arrived and left using the trains that passed by. We always stayed away from their living areas and stuck to the paths. Those were understood to be nobody's and were OK for dog walking. The atmosphere was not scary, like the junkie camps of today, but more simply private. A remnant of the homeless camp still exists in the area around the big curve in the train tracks between Johnson and E. Wash and the Yahara River and bike path, showing an interesting continuity of usage that probably dates back at least to the Great Depression.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby frozenCow » Wed May 18, 2011 11:19 pm

barney wrote:weren't those buildings were the first Paisan's was?

When I first went to Paisan's in the early 70s, it was located in it's second location, in the basement of Porta Bella. However, I've had this conversation with my friend who grew up down there, and I believe he said Paisan's was originally located in the 600 block of University Ave (the block occupied by the Fluno Center today).

I remember when they were tearing down all the buildings on that block in the early 70s (about 1970-71). They left one building standing in the middle of the block for the longest time (like almost a year) until it too was torn down. It looked silly standing there alone, because it had obviously been built between two buildings. Then for the rest of the 70s and all of the 80s that whole block was a parking lot until the city built the ramp at Lake and Johnson in the early 90s. The ramp was intended to match a building that was never built (I forget the snafu), leaving the rest of the block vacant. Finally in the last 10 years or so, they built the Fluno Center.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby snoqueen » Wed May 18, 2011 11:37 pm

I'm laughing here. The building that was left standing after everything else was torn down was Bob and Gene's, a great bar that was halfway between a neighbohood bar and a student bar. On the block when it was whole were other bars, including one I think was called the Paradise (not the up-town one, though) and "Old Lorenzo's," a fabulous place with deco-style mirrors on all the walls. The Paradise was a narrow little slot of a bar with a row of curious wooden phone booths in back, each with its own phone, a little light, and a windowed wooden door you could close for private conversations. We always theorized the booths were for an earlier generation of bar patrons to call their bookies and place bets.

Across the street about halfway down the even-number side of the block was the original Genna's bar, incidentally. It had sort of a Hawaiian theme to the decor.

Bob and Gene's had euchre night (maybe Thursday nights?) right up until the end, and in among the noisy student drinkers you'd see these tables of older neighborhood residents quietly playing cards at little four-top tables. The whole block in the 60s was a nice mix of students and ordinary Madison folks from the neighborhood directly south. This included Italian people from the Bush area who ran many fine ethnic restaurants including, yes, Paisans.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby frozenCow » Wed May 18, 2011 11:53 pm

That's it! My friend too identified it as Bob and Gene's when I told him about my memory of it.

I do remember Genna's. I was there in the early 80s. It was run by Frank Genna, and it was a quiet place (i.e. not a student bar) when I hung out there. My friends liked it, because in '82 it had a new fangled device called an electronic dart game (as opposed to a dart board) and we were getting into playing darts. When Halloween 1982 got too crowded on State St, we took a time out in Genna's. You never would have known it was Halloween in there that night (it was NOT a student bar).

After Frank died and his kids took over, it became a hip place for the young crowd by the early 90s. I couldn't believe it, but I was past the age of hanging out in downtown bars at that point. Then for reasons unknown to me (lease? sold building?) they moved to the square.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby frozenCow » Thu May 19, 2011 12:41 am

All this talk about University Ave, and I just remembered a great picture I stumbled upon a short while back. I couldn't find such a picture on the WHS site.

This undated photo is from a West High Class of 1960 website. It's titled "Park Street" and probably does date from the early 1960s.

The view is looking north up Park St, but you can see Clymer Place and all the buildings along University Ave that we have been talking about (like the back side of Bob and Gene's). Another friend of mine who came to Madison in the Air Force in 1964 (when Truax was an Air Force base and a part of NORAD) always talked about the student bars on the block where Vilas Hall is now (bars with names like The Three Bells). According to him, in the days before the Vietnam War took a turn for the worse, Madison was a great place to be a young guy in the service (plenty of college girls to meet, and 18 year old beer bars to meet them in).
Image
http://personalpages.tds.net/~rdannelson9/jim-s2hr.html

To date the photo: I see Sellery Hall and Witte Hall are built. It looks like they are building Ogg Hall (at 716 W. Dayton Street) and Gordon Commons. It also looks like they are building the Lake St. Ramp (sorry, but I forget what the new name is for that). According to the History of the University Residence Halls, Sellery Hall opened in 1963, Witte Hall opened in 1964, and Ogg Hall and Gordon Commons opened in 1965. That would date it about 1964.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby meowzamusic » Thu May 19, 2011 7:27 am

I've hungered for maps of the area for years, and found a bunch at www.historicmapworks.com. You have to sign in to see most of the stuff and there's an annoying thing they put across the maps so you don't copy them, but you can download their browser tool and zoom in on the thousands of maps they have.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu May 19, 2011 9:19 am

frozenCow wrote:
narcoleptish wrote:
snoqueen wrote: There also used to be a public school in the park to the north of the clock store but I can't remember the name of it.


I remember that school and thinking it looked like a dilapidated Ramada Inn. It was around until the mid 80's at least, I lived right there on Sherman for a few months in my first foray into independent living. I wanna say it was exclusively for Maple Bluff, but I have no real reason for saying that.

I think that was old Lakewood school. I don't know much about it (like if it was once an elementary school). When I first stumbled upon it in 1979, Malcolm Shabazz High School was located there.

I taught at Shabazz during that time. The district sold the building to Maple Bluff and they tore it down. The land became an extention of nearby Burrows Park. Shabazz then move to Sherman Elementary School. Before Sherman Ave. was reconfigured and traffic was directed down Fordem, there were shops at that intersection. First a clock shop and later a doughnut place.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby surroundedbyreality » Mon May 23, 2011 2:36 pm

I love these remembering old Madison threads. I’m just getting to read this thread now, here’s my .02 worth:

The area that is now Camp Randall was the State fair grounds before the Civil War camp was built there. They used some of the existing buildings as barracks. It reverted back to fair grounds after the CW for a short time.

I grew up on First street and remember spending a lot of time in the Hobo Jungle. Not a lot to say about it, I just remember being in a wooded area. It must have been a landfill at one time, when they tore it up to put in the apartments there were tons of old glass milk bottles and other stuff in the piles of earth.

The street that ran between University and State before Humanities was built was named Sterling Court. There was another street that ran the other way, Irving Place. I have a little more info here:
http://www.surroundedbyreality.com/Misc ... lingCt.asp
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby frozenCow » Mon May 23, 2011 11:42 pm

Yes, memory is a strange thing.

If I ever saw the little street that once ran between University Ave and State St just one block east of Park St, I made no memory of it. The earliest memory I have of that specific block was when my sister started at UW in the fall of 1969, and Humanities was already there. The look of the Humanities building alone would probably have been enough to leave an impression on me. But what seared it forever in my memory was the site of armed national guardsman using the second floor courtyard of the Humanities building as a command post sometime in 1969 or 1970. There is a myth that the Humanities building was designed for such a purpose, but of course the building was designed before the anti-Vietnam War riots took place. In 1970, when many conventional buildings on campus had boarded up broken windows, it looked like it had been built for exactly that purpose.

Years ago, when my friend who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1950s first told me about the street that ran where Humanities now stands, he called it Clymer Place. I took it at face value, so I never checked my old maps to verify the name.

Now having been informed of this error by surroundedbyreality, I did get around to checking the old maps. They of course show the street as Sterling Court. Clymer Place was an east/west street one block south of W. Johnson St running from N. Mills St to N Frances St. Three blocks of Clymer Place remain between N. Mills St and N. Park St.

I talked to my friend about this tonight. He was certain it was as he told me (that poem about Clymer Place still stuck in his head). But he admitted that his memory is subject to mistakes concerning fine details. I can understand, considering the city tore his neighborhood all down over forty-five years ago. After a while, it would be easy for the street names to run together in your head.

So the streets running between State St and University Ave, from N Park St going east were:

Sterling Ct, N. Murray St, Fitch Ct, N. Lake St, Hawthorne Ct, and N. Frances St.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby snoqueen » Tue May 24, 2011 8:38 am

Murray Street was the longest one. It ran right through where the SE dorms are now and went to the giant junkyard NE of the corner of Park and Regent. Remember that thing, down behind the bar known as the Stone Hearth in the 70s? Whenever your car got towed, that's where it wound up. Now it's all gentrified into nice new student residences.

The Park and Regent corner had an Italian restaurant on all four points in the mid 60s, if I recall right. And they were GOOD ones. The one where the little church is now (formerly an incarnation of Bunky's) was the coolest. It was nothing but an old house with remodeled "wings" on the sides for the dining areas, all the floors were crooked, the whole place was cramped, and they had the best spaghetti and meatballs I ever ate. You could see the Italian women and their daughters cooking in back, same as Mexican and Southeast Asian families in their restaurants today.

Just south of the viaduct on Park, but on the west side of the street, was a little red building that housed a gay bar. I think it was the Back Door. Maybe someone else will remember more about that than I do -- it was pre-Club de Wash and far more private than gay bars today. I was only in there once with some friends and all I remember is they had a great juke box and space to dance, which was hard to find in other bars at the time.
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Re: Question for the town history crowd

Postby Putsmeister » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:25 pm

Sorry to drag up this old dead thread, but I just found this while searching on Bob and Genes Tavern.

Regarding the bar South of the viaduct on the West side of Park St. I used to frequent one in that location back around 1970 that was called The Roman Inn. It changed names to The Red Baron about the time I started going there. It was right across Park St. from Snoopy's which later became The Stone Hearth. It was not a gay bar then, at least that I was aware of.

As for Bob & Gene's, I'm pretty sure I remember meeting some friends there in early 1974 to plan a backpacking trip so I think it was still there then, but probably not much longer.
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