Hours: 4:00am - 10:00pm Park Type: Community Acres: 47.12 Restroom: Yes Drinking Water: Yes Shoreline On: Lake Monona & Wingra Creek
The Olin Park Pavilion is one of the most popular park shelters in the city. The view of the city is unparalleled. The Olin Park Pavilion is one of the most historic buildings owned by the City of Madison. It was built in 1884 and designed by Madison architect David R. Jones as 'Normal Hall' for the Wisconsin Sunday School Assembly. It has gracefully aged and transformed over the years to serve a variety of uses.
During the Wisconsin Sunday School Assembly sessions, the grounds resembled a tent city. Steamships and trains were scheduled for stops at the grounds and a streetcar line was eventually built to serve the camp. People came from all over the Midwest numbering as many as 15,000 (more than the population of Madison at the time).
In 1912, the city purchased the old assembly grounds for a park. In 1919, 'Monona Park' was opened up to tourists for camping, making it the first municipal camp east of the Rocky Mountains. The 'old barn' during those days was used as a dance hall. This is one of the few remaining buildings connected with Madison's heyday as a resort community. In 1923, the Common Council renamed the park Olin Park in honor of John Olin the founder of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive.
In 2000, the Olin Pavilion was renovated to better serve the public and will resemble the original 1884 'barn.' The Pavilion remains the most popular shelter in the Madison Parks System.