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Historic District Homes of Madison

We’re back from our Wisconsin vacation and I’m excited to share some of the historic district homes in Madison. First, let me say what a beautiful, small city that Madison is. I was impressed with its cleanliness and aesthetic appeal of tree-lined streets. Not to mention, people were so friendly there. The first thing I want to share from the trip are the charming older homes on the east side.

Historic District Homes - Purple Victorian in Madison, Wisconsin

Madison is uniquely located on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Monona. It’s also the state capitol and is home to the University of Wisconsin. College towns are typically cultural in nature and Madison is no exception. But today, we’ll focus on the beautiful historic district homes like this stunning, purple Victorian with its white picket fence.

This home is located just one block from Lake Monona. Really, anywhere you go in Madison you’re just a short walk to one of the lake shorelines. That’s part of what makes the small city so appealing.

Purple Victorian Home with White Picket Fence

One thing that struck me as we were walking around is how friendly everyone is. People would say hello or pay a compliment. It’s not like the Chicago suburbs where everyone seems to be in a hurry or pretends they don’t see you. And even though the population is over 200,000, the streets weren’t at all crowded and traffic was surprisingly quiet.

Large Yellow Craftsman Style Home in Madison, Wisconsin

While there, we stumbled across Jenifer Street – although it’s not spelled with two n’s like my name. But it’s populated with gorgeous homes like this historic brick beauty.

Historic Brick Home on the Corner of Jenifer Street

This is the John George Ott house built by a Swiss immigrant in 1873 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It also happens to be listed on Airbnb and is available to rent! I might have to add it to my list of places to stay.

George Ott House in Madison

A lot of the homes in the Jenifer-Spaight historic district of Madison have plaques like this that give you more information about the house.

Historic Home Plaque Designation - George Ott House

You can walk around the tree-lined streets and get an education on architecture and the history of Madison. This brick beauty was built as the Hyer Hotel but is now a private residence. Union soldiers quartered here during the Civil War.

Beautiful Historic White Brick Home in Wisconsin


Historic House Plaque in Madison

Even if you don’t want an educational experience, you can still enjoy the beauty of the historic district homes situated between the two lakes.

Pink Victorian Home in Jenifer-Spaight Historic District


Large Porch on Victorian Home in Wisconsin


If you look to the right of this gorgeous blue Victorian, you can see Lake Monoma in the background, which is on the south side of Madison. Lake Mendota is on the north side. There’s just a few blocks between the lakes so you can easily walk from one shoreline to the other.

Blue Victorian Mansion in the Heart of Madison


The corner in front of this charming farmhouse serves as a bus stop. Wasn’t it nice of the city to add a pretty blue bench at the stop instead of an unsightly cement block? The bench color matches the front door!

Bus Stop in Front of House - Blue Bench


Here’s a closer look at the porch.

Farmhouse Porch with Bright Blue Door


Although many of the historic district homes in this area are Victorian in style, you’ll find other examples like this charming brown shingle house.

Brown Shingle Home


Red Brick Madison Home


It’s nice to see such pride of ownership in these homes. Note the colors of the sunburst on this Victorian porch. Although we didn’t visit all the neighborhoods, I didn’t see any run-down areas.

Victorian Front Door on Small Porch

Hubby and I plan to go back soon since Madison is only a two-hour drive from our house. I’m told the city has an amazing farmer’s market that I’d like to experience. I’ll share more photos of our trip and from the house we stayed in coming up later this week. Let me know if you’ve ever been to Madison and any of your favorite experiences while there.


Enjoy More Places to Visit:

A Walking Tour of Lake Geneva

The Riverfront Beauty of South Haven

Homes and Scenes of Fish Creek, Door County

Why I Love Where I Live

Visiting Cozumel, Mexico



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  1. So beautiful. Although I did public relations for a number of Wisconsin ski areas, including Blackhawk just to the west, when I had my P.R. business in Chicago, I never stopped in Madison for some reason. I especially like the brick on what was the Hyer Hotel. I look forward to the follow-up post on your vacation!

    1. Hi Teddee! I didn’t know you did PR for ski areas in Wisconsin. My cousins lived in Baraboo and used to ski a lot. I think they mostly skied at Cascade Mountain.

  2. I love to read the plaques on old homes like these, such a wonderful neighborhood and so well taken care of.

    1. Yes! Reading the plaques made the experience so interesting. I love learning about the history of homes, neighborhoods, and towns. I also enjoy imagining what life was like there, back in the day.

  3. This is so appealing, I yearn to walk in these older neighborhoods. We lived in St. Paul, hubby’s home town, for a couple of years in 1978. During that time we visited Madison, I barely remember, but would love a midwestern tour just to see these type of locations again. It seems so peaceful. In the fall or spring, lol.

    1. Hi Jillian,

      I’ve never been to St. Paul. I think the only place I visited in Minnesota was Winona – and that was a work trip so I didn’t get out to do much sightseeing. Although my employer did pay for me to stay at the most charming Bed & Breakfast instead of the hotel where everyone else stayed. πŸ™‚ Fall would be a perfect time to visit the Midwest – the weather is more predictable than in the spring. Not to mention you get to see the beautiful fall foliage!

  4. My aunt and uncle live on Lake Waubesa in McFarland which is adjacent to Madison. We visit 2-3 times a year and, weather permitting, they give us a ride on their their pontoon boat. Many beautiful homes on the lake… Then we’ll watch the gorgeous sunset from their backyard deck. My aunt goes to the farmer’s market A LOT! I’ve been there once with her and it is awesome. If you do go there, I suggest you plan on being there at least 2 hours! So much to see… We’ll be up there in two weeks for their 50th wedding anniversary!! (I was their flower girl πŸ™‚ Fun Fun Fun!)

    1. Colleen- you’re so lucky to have relatives who live there – especially ones with a boat! I can’t believe I’ve never visited Madison until just now. Why didn’t my parents take me there as a kid? I feel deprived. LOL. I’m definitely going back – hopefully next month!

  5. My town! You captured some eastside beauties for sure. For your return trip, I recommend checking out the historic neighborhoods of Nakoma (my hood), University Heights, and Vilas. The UW arboretum is very special, as are the 4 lakes that are within city limits. The downtown farmer’s market on Saturday mornings is a great experience. And you absolutely must go to the Memorial Union terrace on the shores of Lake Mendota. Make time for a quick, wonderful little hike out to Picnic Point on Lake Mendota. Fromagination is the most lovely little cheese and gourmet food shop on the Capitol square…nothing else like it! So many people go to Madison for college and end up never leaving; or like me, leave and then come back for the quality of life.

    1. Hi Teri,

      Thanks for all the great tips! You’ve just convinced me to return to Madison next month while the weather is still decent. I’m for sure checking out as many of the spots as you mentioned. Stay tuned for a few more blog posts about it! πŸ™‚

  6. So funny. It was on our way home from Madison that I saw this post in my email. We just moved my son there for Grad school. I was so impressed with the entire Madison area. It is obviously a very growing area now as there are townhomes and condo’s going up in addition to the many already there as well as beautiful apartment buildings. Yet it is still so green with flowers everywhere. We loved the different areas surrounding the city. Loved the areas with the older homes as well as all of the neighboring communities. As you said, we also loved the people. I believe Madison is listed as one of the top 10 places to live and I can see why. I could easily be happy there. The University Arboretum was beautiful and the Botanical Gardens was just gorgeous. Although my son plans to move back to the Northeast upon graduation, it would not surprise me if he ended staying there.

    1. Hi Debra,

      What a coincidence! I’ll have to check out the arboretum and botanical gardens. We did take a drive through the University campus and it was pretty. I wonder why I didn’t consider it when choosing a college years ago. LOL. Good luck to your son at grad school!