East Side History Madison’s Blog

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

Archive for July, 2012

East Side business Capital Water Softener featured for longevity

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on July 20, 2012

“Helena Street” brings to mind blocks of cozy, well-tended residences in the heart of Madison’s East Side. But bike, stroll or drive the stretch in the 2000 block and you’ll find yourself surrounded by East Side industry.

Capital Water Softener  and Schoep’s Ice Cream dominate the block in buildings dating to the 1930s. This mix of housing and workplaces still serves the vision of Madison’s early planners, who envisioned factories along the east rail corridor where “working men” could live close to newly-created jobs.

Today working men and women still live close to their jobs. One of these employers, Capital Water Softener, 2096 Helena Street, was recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal for its longevity.

“Norman Pederson was a young man just out of high school when he started Capital Water Softener in 1936. Pederson’s family lived and worked on a dairy farm in the town of Burke. But farming wasn’t Norman’s idea of fun,” the article begins. Read more here.

The business, which now employs 11 people, is operated by the third generation of owners–Joel Wick, Pederson’s grandson. Congratulations to Capital Water Softener on your longevity, and recent positive press.

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Update on the “Old Sugar Castle” in Isthmus 7/5/12

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on July 9, 2012

Photo by Craig Wilson, Kite Aerial Photography

The East Side History Club continues to follow development plans (or lack thereof) for the Garver Feed Mill, affectionately known on the East Side as the “Old Sugar Castle.”  An article by Isthmus writer Jay Rath, reporting on on his chat with Olbrich Botanical Gardens Director Roberta Sladky about current plans, appeared in the Isthmus issue of 7/5/12.

Rath reports that, “Madison is now seeking architects to work with Olbrich on a project to explore ways to meet the gardens’ current and future building space needs to better accommodate the public. A second, related proposal would stabilize the core of the Garver Feed Mill for use as a garden support and storage facility by both Olbrich and the Parks Division.”

The article goes on to say that, “Using the mill for public space at this point has already been ruled out by Olbrich. ‘We don’t see a safe way to get the public across the [adjacent] bike path and the railway tracks without an incredible amount of additional expenditure,” says Sladky.'”

Neighborhood residents find it hard to believe that public access is the real deal-breaker here; consider the traffic uses around Union South for an example of successful coexistence of public space, railroad tracks, and bicycle, pedestrian, and vehicular traffic. We continue to hope for–and advocate actively for–practical visions of the Garver building as a public asset with public uses.

To view past reports on the “Old Sugar Castle” on this blog, click here.

-Sarah White

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