City of Madison

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Background Information

From Past to Present
Since the start of this project, we have heard from neighbors how they remember the street as they were growing up in Regent Neighborhood.  In a City where there are many transplants from across the county, it has been quite enduring to hear the stories of how today’s residents remember Ellen’s restaurant, Ivy Inn, Miller’s Grocery, and the Nehi Bottling Company. 

Image of 1954 Aerial of University Avenue
Image of 200_  Aerial of University Avenue

Businesses on Old University Avenue, 1921 to Present

History of Regent Neighborhood (Courtesy of Regent Neighborhood Association)
The locality we know as the Regent Neighborhood is composed of three distinct areas that developed as the city spread westward in the early 20th century.

University Heights was platted in 1893 and extends from Breese Terrace to Allen Street and from University Ave south to Regent Street. Located close to the University, the area's curving streets and hilltop views attracted the families of professors and business people. Some of Madison's most architecturally significant Queen Anne, Prairie Style and period revival houses still grace the district.

The area south of Regent Street and extending south to the new Capitol City Bike Path and extends from the Camp Randall Stadium to the Forest Hill Cemetery was part of the Wingra Park Addition, platted in 1897. Development began when the streetcar line was extended from Camp Randall to the cemetery. The neighborhood's hilly terrain resulted in meandering streets and created special challenges to homebuilders. As a result, there are irregular shaped lots, in-ground garages, steep front steps and nearly vertical backyards.

The area from Allen Street stretching west between Regent St. and University Ave. developed sporadically during the first three decades of the century with the last wave of construction coinciding with the opening of West High around 1930. The neighborhood is characterized by comfortable family homes with wide front porches, quiet tree-lined streets, and a country-like atmosphere.

University Heights Historic District One of Madison's first suburbs, University Heights was platted in 1893. Located close to the University, its curvilinear streets and beautiful vistas attracted families of university professors and other business people. Some of Madison's most architecturally significant Queen Anne, prairie style and period revival houses were built here. Madison's finest architects, as well as nationally-known architects Keck and Keck, George W. Maher, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, designed residences in the Heights.
The Common Council designated University Heights (Ordinance and Map) as Madison's third historic district in 1985 at the request of neighborhood residents.

The University Heights Historic District: A Walking Tour provides a description of notable architects, architecture style, and persons that make Regent Neighborhood a historic delight.