Architecture Tour (Self Guided), Madison

Madison boasts of some great architectural masterpieces. There is something for everyone who is into stunning past and present structures. Take this walking tour to the most significant buildings Madison has to offer.
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Architecture Tour Map

Guide Name: Architecture Tour
Guide Location: USA » Madison (See other walking tours in Madison)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: DanaU
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church
  • Monona Terrace
  • Wisconsin State Capitol
  • Grace Episcopal Church
  • Overture Center
  • Bethel Lutheran Church
  • Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church

1) St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 for its architectural significance. The church was dedicated on Saint Patrick's Day of 1889. Archbishop Michael Heiss of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee was in attendance. In 1972, the church was designated a landmark by the Madison Landmarks Commission.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Monona Terrace

2) Monona Terrace (must see)

Monona Terrace (officially the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center) is a convention center on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin.

Originally designed by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright, it was first proposed by Wright in 1938. The county board rejected the plan by a single vote. Wright would continue to seek support for the plan (and alter its design) until his death in 1959. For the next four decades, various proposals for a convention center on the Monona Terrace land would be considered and rejected. Several times, it appeared that supporters of the project would be able to secure the public financing to complete the project, but various forces (such as the start of World War II) inevitably sidelined the plan. In 1990, Madison Mayor Paul Soglinresurrected Wright's proposal. Among the arguments against its construction, opponents argued that it wasn't a genuine Wright building, that the costs were too steep for the tax payers to bear and that the construction would adversely affect the environment, specifically destroying the view of Lake Monona from street level on the south side of the Capitol Square. The proposed construction was put to a public referendum in 1992 and it passed. Construction began two years later. In 1997, nearly sixty years after Wright's original inception, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center opened its doors.

The facility hosts over 600 conventions, meetings and weddings each year that result in an average of $36 million in economic activity for the region. Monona Terrace also runs free community programs that serve approximately 40,000 people each year. Monona Terrace also offers a daily guided tour, a gift shop, a rooftop cafe (warm weather months only), and serves as the home for some of the community's events including the national radio variety show Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?, Ironman Wisconsin, and U.S. Bank Eve.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Wisconsin State Capitol

3) Wisconsin State Capitol (must see)

The Wisconsin State Capitol, in Madison, Wisconsin, houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. Completed in 1917, the building is the fifth to serve as the Wisconsin capitol since the first territorial legislature convened during 1836 and the third building since Wisconsin was granted statehood during 1848. The streets surrounding the building form the Capitol Square which is home to many restaurants and shops. The Wisconsin State Capitol is the tallest building in Madison.

The first capitol was a prefabricated wood-frame council house without heat or water that had been sent hastily to Belmont. Legislators met there for 42 days after Belmont was designated the capital of Wisconsin Territory. The session chose Madison as the site of the capitol, and Burlington, Iowa as the site of further legislative sessions until Madison could be ready. The council house and an associated lodging house still stand and are operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society as the First Capitol Historic Site. The second capitol was constructed during 1837 in Madison of stone cut from Maple Bluff and oak cut locally. Located on the site of the present capitol, it was a small but typical frontier capitol that cost $60,000 to build. Growing government needs forced the state to construct a new capitol, also on the site of the present capitol. This structure, with a similar U.S. Capitol-inspired dome, was built between 1857 and 1869. During 1882, it was expanded at a cost of $900,000, with two wings to the north and south. During 1903, however, a commission began researching replacement of the structure.

On the night of February 26, 1904, a gas jet ignited a newly-varnished ceiling in the third capitol building. Although the building had an advanced fire-fighting system, the nearby University of Wisconsin–Madison's reservoir which supplied the capitol was empty, allowing the fire to spread substantially before the switch to alternate city water supplies could be made. As a result, the entire structure, except the north wing, burned to the ground. Numerous records, books, and historical artifacts were lost, including the mount of Old Abe, a Civil War mascot. However, by the efforts of university students, much of the State Law Library was saved.

Construction of the present capitol building, the third in Madison, began during late 1906 and was completed during 1917.The architect was George B. Post & Sons from New York. Because of financial limitations and the need for immediate office space to house state government employees, the construction of the new building was extended over several years and emphasized building one wing at a time. The Capitol is 284 feet, 5 inches tall from the ground floor to the top of the statue on the dome, making the building 3 feet shorter than the nation's capitolin Washington D.C. The "Wisconsin" statue on the dome was sculpted during 1920 by Daniel Chester French of New York. Its left hand holds a globe with an eagle on it and her right arm is outstretched to symbolize the state motto, "Forward." It wears a helmet with the state animal, the badger, on top. It is made of hollow bronze covered with gold leaf.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Grace Episcopal Church

4) Grace Episcopal Church

Located at North Carroll Street, Madison, the Grace Episcopal Church was designed by James Douglas and was built in 1855. On January 1, 1976, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in art, architecture and religion. Don't hesitate to visit this stunning architectural marvel your own.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Overture Center

5) Overture Center (must see)

Overture Center for the Arts is a performing arts center and art gallery in Madison. The center opened on September 19, 2004, replacing the former Civic Center. In addition to several theaters The center was commissioned by Jerome Frautschi, designed by Cesar Pelli, and built by J.H. Findorff and Son. Frautschi paid $205 million to construct the building, making it the largest private gift to the arts of its kind It was intended to replace the Madison Civic Center, located on the same block on State Street. The building has seven venues, in addition to art galleries: Overture Hall, Capitol Theater, Playhouse, Promenade Hall, Rotunda Stage, Wisconsin Studio and Rotunda Studio, and Visual Art Galleries.

The Overture Center has been the subject of several controversies. After Frautschi's initial gift, some citizens complained that the City of Madison's priorities were skewed. Others said the project would hurt the image of nearby State Street. Still others believed it would be accessible only to the wealthy while limiting access to local and smaller acts and artists.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Bethel Lutheran Church

6) Bethel Lutheran Church

Originally known as the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Madison, Bethel Lutheran Church acquired its current name in 1896. The church built several houses of worship, including the building it occupies today. The land on which Bethel Lutheran Church stands today, was purchased in 1922. The building of Bethel Lutheran Church is considered to be one of Madison's most impressive religious constructions. You should definitely include it in your list of things to see.
Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel

7) Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel

This impressive red brick chapel is located on W. Gilman Street and was inaugurated in 2006. Being a modern construction, it is worth visiting and admiring. It has been designed in Wartburg Castle style and features a stunning sanctuary. Open for students and their friends, Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel has also study rooms, a library, activities room, fellowship room, and more. It is also a member of Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Walking Tours in Madison, Wisconsin

Create Your Own Walk in Madison

Create Your Own Walk in Madison

Creating your own self-guided walk in Madison is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Museums and Art Galleries Walk

Museums and Art Galleries Walk

If you are planning a trip to Madison, it cannot be complete without exploring the city's most important museums and art galleries. Madison is home to many great museums, including the Geology Museum, Chazen Museum of Art, as well as some nice galleries. Take this tour to the best museums in Madison.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Madison Introduction Walk

Madison Introduction Walk

Madison, the capital city of Wisconsin, has no shortage of landmarks notable in terms of architectural, historic, and cultural importance. The city's skyline is dominated by the Wisconsin State Capitol dome modeled after the U.S. Capitol. Linking the Capitol Square with the University of Wisconsin campus is State Street, Madison's main thoroughfare, running across Downtown and lined with...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles