East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

Wrapping up: A report on October’s meeting, 4 Generations of the Gunderson Funeral Home

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on November 27, 2016

 

Pete Gunderson, 3rd generation, presented to our club on October 15, 2016.

Pete Gunderson, 3rd generation, presented to our club on October 15, 2016.

Imagine our surprise when Pete Gunderson wheeled in three caskets to the Goodman Community Center for the East Side History Club meeting on October 15th.  He said he would be bringing some historical items for his talk on the history of the Gunderson Funeral Home and on past and current funeral practices but we didn’t expect two full size caskets (one was a beautiful new wicker biodegradable casket and the other was an older traditional Norwegian casket) as well as an historic child’s casket (with a window so people could see the face of the child and not catch whatever communicable disease the child had died from).

3-memorabilia-and-child-casket

Child’s casket with window is visible behind Gunderson Funeral Home memorabilia.

4-norwegian-casket

Traditional Norwegian casket

5-wicker-casket

Modern wicker biodegradable casket

Pete Gunderson is the third generation of Gundersons to be funeral directors on Madison’s East Side, joining the firm in 1982.  Pete’s son, Matt, is the fourth generation.

Pete’s grandparents, Elmer and Inez Gunderson, started the business from their home at 1932 Winnebago St. in 1922. Elmer had been a medic during World War I, transporting and handling the bodies of soldiers who died on the battlefield. After the war, he came to Madison and worked for the funeral director Otto Schroeder on King Street. He decided to attend embalming school so that he could start his own funeral business.

Gunderson residence and first funeral home at 1932 Winnebago Street, Madison.

Gunderson residence and first funeral home at 1932 Winnebago Street, Madison.

In 1926  Elmer and Inez built a beautiful new funeral parlor at 1936 Winnebago Street.

Unfortunately, in 1940, at the age of 45, Elmer died of a heart attack.  His wife Inez had 7 young children to raise (5 daughters, 2 sons) so she went to the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago and took over the business, involving the children in various tasks until they left home.

Bob Gunderson, Pete’s father, was only 14 years old when his father died.  He helped his mother the best he could until he graduated from East High School in 1944. After serving in WW II and attending the UW he went to the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science in Milwaukee to become a licensed funeral director. Under his and his mother’s leadership, the business thrived.  They built a new facility at 5203 Monona Drive in 1956 and acquiring 6 other funeral homes in the Madison area.

The original Gunderson home and funeral parlor was physically moved from 1936 Winnebago St to 107 Dunning St. in 1956.

The Winnebago Street funeral home continued to be used until the property was sold to Security State Bank for their expansion in 1965.

Inez Gunderson died in 1987 at the age of 91.  She had married Elmer in 1914 and became president of the funeral home after this death and continued until her retirement.

Her son Bob died in 2005 at age 79.  He had been in the business for more than 50 years.

By Ann Waidelich

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Dean Clinic subject brought past employees, patients to November meeting

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on November 16, 2016

On Nov. 12th the East Side History Club heard Bob Kann, (http://www.bobkann.com/  ) talk about the Doctors Dean and the history of the Dean Clinic and the practice of medicine from 1904 through the 1950s.

Bob became interested in the Dean Clinic’s history while researching the history of St. Mary’s Hospital. https://stmarys100stories.wordpress.com/

Dr. Joseph Dean Sr. helped to found St. Mary’s and his brother, two sons and grandson became doctors, in part due to Dr. Dean’s example of unselfish devotion to serving his patients and the community. For more on the history of the Dean Medical Group see  http://www.deancare.com/about-us/history/

The East Madison Clinic became a part of Dean Medical Group in 1982 due in large part to the State’s requirement that medical groups offer a type of health insurance called HMO (Health Maintenance Organization). Rather than form its own the Clinic decided to join the Dean organization.

Attending the November meeting were a group of former employees, including two retired physicians, of the East Madison Clinic who spoke highly of the close working and social relationships that developed at the clinic, due in part to the very small building where it was located.

Dr. Cyrus Reznichek  came to Madison to practice medicine in 1935.  In 1945 he founded the EMC with Drs. Eugene Skroch, R.J. Hennen, and William Meisekothen. They opened their offices in the Simley Building, 2037 Winnebago St.  In 1956 the Clinic built their own building at 1912 Atwood Ave.

The clinic was primarily a general practice clinic but over time they added doctors who were trained in various specialties. By 1969 there were 12 doctors plus staff working under very crowded conditions so the building was enlarged.

It was torn down after the clinic moved to a new, much larger building on 1821 South Stoughton Road in 2004.

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November 12 meeting: History of the Dean Clinic

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on November 4, 2016

East Madison Clinic circa 1980.

East Madison Clinic circa 1980.

The East Side History Club presents:
History of the Dean Clinic
Saturday, November 12
1-3 pm
Evjue Room, Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.
$2 suggested donation

Local researcher/author Bob Kann will tell how a one-physician clinic founded in downtown Madison in 1904 grew to more than 60 clinics, a health plan, a foundation, and more. The East Madison Clinic, founded in 1945, merged with Dean Clinic in 1982. Bring your memories of being a patient at the East Madison Clinic.

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October 15 meeting: 4 Generations of the Gunderson Funeral Home

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on October 13, 2016

The original Gunderson Funeral Home, 1922 on Winnebago Street

 

4 Generations of the Gunderson Funeral Home
Saturday, October 15
1-3 pm in Bolz A
Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.
149 Waubesa St.
$2 suggested donation

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From Methodist to Pan-Orthodox

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on September 27, 2016

For its September 2016 meeting, about 35 members of the East Side History Club visited the Assumption Greek Orthodox church. Ann Waidelich spoke about the history of Bashford Methodist Church, which originally occupied the site at 11 North 7th Street, and Father Mike Vanderhoef shared his personal history with the church, which he attended as a boy and now makes his spiritual home. Then the attendees moved to the church’s sanctuary to view the remarkable iconography painted by  local artist* David Giffey over 30+ years.

Here’s what we learned:

Bashford Methodist Church traces its history back to 1919 when the Methodist Union bought two lots on North 7th street from the Girstenbrei family as the site for an East Side Methodist Church, which was its name until 1945.  They were somewhat hesitant about the site because it was so far out–almost at the very limits of the city–but they went ahead because there were indications that both an elementary school (Emerson) and a high school (Madison East) would be built in the vicinity, which would attract more residents to the neighborhood.

The Methodists pitched a large tent to serve as their worship hall, but soon afterward a 30′ x 60′ “tarpaper shack” was erected with a cinder-covered dirt floor. Wood boards on packing crates served for pews, a wood burning stove for heat, and a very old grand piano for music.

The building was below the sidewalk grade and was surrounded by water after every rain.

In 1922-23 the building was remodeled, adding stucco to the outside, plasterboard walls on the inside, and a new roof. The structure awas jacked up onto posts to position it above the waterline.

The anticipated schools were built, and the neigbhorhood population grew–and so did the congregation. In 1941 the congregation decided to tear down the old building and build a new church on the site. (They worshiped in Schenk’s Hall, a space above the Schenk-Huegel store in Schenk’s corners for almost nine months while the church was being built). The church adopted the name “Bashford” in 1945, for Methodist Bishop James Bashford. (His brother, Robert Bashford, was mayor of Madison and a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice.)

By 1953 Bashford had grown to 912 members and, again, they needed a bigger space. At first an addition to the 7th Street church was proposed but by April of 1954 the church voted to spend $100,000 on a new church on North Street and sell the old church to Assumption Orthodox Church.

bashford

Madison’s Assumption Orthodox Church is a Pan-Orthodox church which means it welcomes not only Greeks but also Russians, Serbians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Lebanese, and people of any nationality who worship in the Orthodox manner.

The early Madison residents who were members of the Orthodox faith had to go to Fond du Lac , Milwaukee or Chicago to attend services. During WW II the military commissioned an Orthodox priest to come to Truax Field once a month to minister to the Orthodox soldiers training there and on the UW campus. Some Madison residents also attended these services, which encouraged the local residents to organize a congregation in 1951.  Still, a priest had to come from Milwaukee or Chicago. These services were held in Grace Episcopal Church.

The Orthodox congregation heard that Bashford Methodist Church was going to build a new church on North Street and wanted to sell their old church on 7th Street. T $50,000 was raised to purchase the building. For about a year both congregations used the building on 7th Street until the new Bashford Church was completed.

Then work began to convert the interior of the building into an Orthodox Church, but it wasn’t until 1963 that the first full-time priest was assigned to the Madison parish.

In 1976-77 Madison architect Alex Frunza, a member of the church, offered to design a remodeling of the building. According to the church’s website:

…Alex Frunza, a member and an architect from Romania… brought forth a plan to remodel the existing Church structure to improve the building, and to transform it into a traditional Orthodox Church. Because of his tireless efforts and his own monetary contributions, the Sunday School gained new space, the dome, apse, nave and iconostasis (icon screen) were remodeled and a Bishop’s throne was constructed. His efforts insured that AGOC would have a home and presence for a long time in Madison.

During the remodeling, the congregation held services in the Edgewood College chapel.

In 1980 a converted Irish Catholic named David Giffey, who had studied icon painting in Greece, offered to decorate the church interior. The iconography represents 1500+ years of gradition in which the artwork serves as a visual reminder of the church’s sacred stories. The images placed on the upper walls represent holy characters and scenes, while the icons on the lower walls represent historical figures, “creating a bridge between heaven and earth,” David said. The images are painted on canvas and attached to the walls using successively thinner layers of plaster. David studied icon painting with master iconographers and muralists during two years spent in Greece beginning in 1977.

assumption

In summer 2016 the church completed another remodeling which enhanced its Orthodox look, enlarged its footprint, and made it even more appealing to a growing congregation of Pan-Orthodox worshipers, not only the descendants of the original parishioners but also Orthodox people who come to Madison from all over the world to study at the University and work at EPIC !!

Father Mike Vanderhoef can claim an unlikely connection to the original Methodist church. Growing up attending the Greek Orthodox services, he heard only acapella music, as that was part of their tradition. When it was time to attend college, he felt compelled to major in organ, and holds a BA in that instrument from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He recently learned that his great great aunt, Ida Vanderhoef, played the organ for the Methodists. “I never knew where that seed in me came from until now,” he said. It amuses him to think that “Where she sat when she played the organ back then is just a few feet behind where I stand when I preach today.”

Mrs. James J. (Ida) Vanderhoef sits at the newly dedicated Joyce and Victor Glenn Memorial Organ at Bashford Methodist church located at the corner of North 7th Street and East Washington Avenue. WHS Image 62203, 11/3/1949, by Arthur Vinje.

Mrs. James J. (Ida) Vanderhoef sits at the newly dedicated Joyce and Victor Glenn Memorial Organ at Bashford Methodist church located at the corner of North 7th Street and East Washington Avenue. WHS Image 62203, 11/3/1949, by Arthur Vinje.

This report was compiled by Ann Waidelich and reported by Sarah White.
*David Giffey is also a widely respected journalist and oral historian.

 

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September 17 meeting: A visit to the Greek Orthodox Church!

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on August 22, 2016

 

Know Your Neighbor:
the Greek Orthodox Church


Saturday September 17 
2-4 pm 
Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 
11 North 7th Street.
$2 suggested donation

We’ll meet at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 11 North 7th Street, for a brief history and tour of the beautiful iconography in the sanctuary.

 

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Tasty tidbits from the April club meeting on “Scouts and Scouting”

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 21, 2016

Ann Waidelich spoke first about Boy Scouts, then continued with Girl Scout history, during our  April meeting.

A BoyScout Trek Wagon was one of the items that spurred discussion of hikes and camp-outs among attendees. The Club is hoping to find a better photo of this one, shown in a newspaper clipping. The wagon was loaded with emergency equipment, camp kitchen, and foodstuffs.

BS Trek wagon cropped

It may have been made by the scouts, or purchased from a firm like the Buffalo Sled Company, which advertised in “Boys Life,” the magazine of boy scouting, in 1912-1915.

1915_06 Boys Life trek wagon

Either way, it must have been a chore for six boys to pull its 2,000 pounds when fully loaded!

Ken DePrey shared this: “One special memory I had was when our troop (32, East Side Business Men’s Association) would hike up to Little Green Lake each year. We would haul all of our supplies and camping equipment by wagon and hike the entire distance (70 miles) by foot.”

Lots of scout memorabilia was on display at the meeting, including an impressive patch jacket (modeled here by Joe Rossmeisl, leader of Boy Scout Troop 34) represents 40 years of scouting by Gene Eagan.

scout memorabilia-Joe Corry

Former Scoutmaster Joe Corry examines memorabilia at the April 2016 meeting.

scout jacket Joe Rossmeisel-front

Joe Rossmeisl models Gene Eagan’s patch jacket.

scout jacket Joe Rossmeisel

Joe Rossmeisl models Gene Eagan’s patch jacket.

Homemade Girl Scout cookies baked from the recipe used by the Strand Bakery back when the cookies were made locally (ca. 1929-1951) were enjoyed by the several dozen attendees. Near the meeting’s close, Girl Scouts from a local troop showed up with today’s very delicious varieties for sale. girl scouts with cookies

 

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April 16 meeting: Scouts and Scouting on Madison’s East Side

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 4, 2016

Girl Scouts deliver cookies, circa 1945: Elaine Tripalin in the center, with twins Janet, left, and Janice Irvin, right, in front of Lowell School. Photo courtesy of Catherine Tripalin Murray.

Girl Scouts deliver cookies, circa 1945: Elaine Tripalin in the center, with twins Janet, left, and Janice Irvin, right, in front of Lowell School. Photo courtesy of Catherine Tripalin Murray.

 

Ann Waidelich will lead a discussion about Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in the Atwood area, past and present, with special guests from local troops. Scouting memorabilia will be on display. Were you a scout? Bring your memories and memorabilia to share, too!

Saturday April 16

1-3 pm in Bolz A

Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation

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Got photos of city summer program activities in the parks?

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 29, 2016

Once upon a time, summer in Madison was a fairytale setting for children. Summer programs in many city parks employed older youth to organize sports, art projects, and theatrics for the younger children. Hawthorne Park (between Division St. and Rusk St.) was one such location.  Recently Jackie (Jaclyn Gerth) Shivers shared this photo of a rehearsal for a production of “Cinderella” to take place in Hawthorne Park with the East Side History Club.

Jacquie Shivers Cinderella Elsa Splett

Jackie told us that Elsa Splett (daughter of Zion Lutheran church’s Reverend Splett) was the recreation director at the Hawthorne Park playground in the 1940s and would organize the children to “make a play” every summer. This performance of Cinderella featured Jerry Waller (left) playing the ‘Fairy Godfather’ and Jackie as the princess (right). Elsa created the set. “She was in the park five days a week in the summer,” Jackie recalled. The photo was taken next to the Splett’s house, which was adjacent to the church on Linden Avenue. Other children in that production were Paul Ives (as Prince Charming),  Blanche Genske, Judy Borquist, and Mary Jane Sachs.

Do you have photographs of activities in Madison’s East Side parks? The History Club would love to hear from you! Email Sarah at sarah.white@firstpersonprod.com.

 

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March 19 Meeting: “New Stories of the Old East Side”

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 7, 2016

 

Neighbor boy “Perkins,” 2700 block Center Street circa 1938. Photo courtesy of Patricia Jacobsen.

Neighbor boy “Perkins,” 2700 block Center Avenue circa 1938. Photo courtesy of Patricia Jacobsen.

Sarah White shares history “finds” discovered while collecting material for the second edition of our local history book, An East Side Album.

Now is the time to bring your photos, mementos and stories! Let’s hear your memories of  the area bounded by the Yahara River, Lake Monona, US 30, and Packers Ave.

Saturday March 19

1-3 pm in Evjue

Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation

 

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