East Side History Madison’s Blog

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

Archive for June, 2009

Support Tenney Park Renewal

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on June 29, 2009

Just about everyone who grew up on Madison’s East Side can tell stories about fun times at Tenney Park.

Tenney Park originated as a project of Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association (MPPDA), a private group formed to address the city’s need for increased parkland. Development of the park began in 1900. Tenney Park became the first Madison park to provide public lake access.

While the land purchase came from Madison lawyer Daniel K. Tenney’s donation of 14 acres of land, augmented with $2,500 in city money, the amenities in the park were purchased with many small, individual donations from ordinary citizens.

Today, “ordinary citizens” again have an opportunity to contribute. The Tenney Park Shelter Fund, an ad-hoc citizen’s group, is raising funds to enhance the park with a new shelter and other amenities.

The park has had a shelter structure since 1958, which many remember as a warming house for skaters. But that building has become worn over time. A new, larger Green-built shelter is envisioned with better facilities for weddings and parties, better play area for little ones, and of course, a fireplace for making memories on winter nights.

A fundraising campaign currently under way intends to raise $1.6 million dollars to make these improvements possible. Read more about this campaign at www.tenneyshelter.org. Then start thinking what you can do to help.

Skaters, 100 years ago…

Tenney skaters ca. 1904-06, photo courtesy of Orin Boebel.

Tenney skaters ca. 1904-06, photo courtesy of Orin Boebel.

and skaters today, still enjoying Tenney Park.

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Life’s a Beach at Hudson Park

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on June 16, 2009

Bob Finley, who wrote about attending St. Bernard’s School in An East Side Album, has sent us a reminiscence about Hudson Park Beach. Thank you, Bob!

Here is an excerpt:

– – –

I was seven years old in April of 1937 when we moved to Madison’s East Side…little did I realize what a wonderful place we had moved to.  We lived only one half block from Hudson Park Beach. For the next ten years I would spend my summers virtually living at the beach.

Fortunately my grandfather, who was retired, lived with us and on warm days would usually agree to spend a couple of hours at the beach. Although there were no swimming classes, by the end of the summer, I learned to swim like a fish.

The beach was a wonderful place. The park itself was quite a bit higher than the beach. There were four courses of about two feet high cut sandstone blocks separating the park from the beach. These courses were about 50 feet long and each course was set back about two feet from the one below it so they formed kind of a huge stairway down to the beach. Every spring the city would bring two large dump trucks full of sand and dump it over the rocks and down onto the beach. It was a great place for building sand castles.

On the west end of the beach was a long swimming pier running from shore out about 50 feet into the lake. The water at the end of the pier was over my head, at least 5 feet deep. About another 100 feet out beyond the end of the pier, was a diving platform with a springboard on it. It was in about 8 feet of water.  It was the goal of every kid on the beach to make it out to the diving platform but my parents put it off limits for a couple of years until I could prove my swimming ability.  In the mid 1940’s the city quit putting up the long pier and diving platform…

The lifeguards were great. They ruled the beach in a very strict manner.  The only lifeguard names I can remember were Art Ensign, Gene Finley and Chully Steel.  Chully even pulled me out once when I was under water practicing holding my breath.

What a way to grow up — spending your summers at the beach!

By: Robert M. Finley


The East Side History Club has not yet been able to locate a picture of Hudson Park Beach. Do you have a photo in your family archives? Dig it out, and let us know!

-Sarah White

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Effigy Tree Welcome Party June 25

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on June 8, 2009

This just in from Linda Baldwin —

The Effigy Tree Sculpture, cast in bronze, will be installed at its original site during the day on June 25. Please help us celebrate its return and guarantee its care for years to come.

You are invited to a celebration to welcome the sculpture back to its home in Hudson Park on Lakeland Avenue June 25, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, at the home of Linda Baldwin & Vince O’Hern, 2930 Lakeland Ave. Suggested donation: $25+ per person for the Effigy Tree Maintenance Endowment. RSVP by June 18 to baldwinohern@gmail.com, or by phone, 608-244-7308. 

ALL DONATIONS UP TO A TOTAL OF $5,000 are being matched by a generous donation from the Madison Community Foundation.


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