East Side History Madison’s Blog

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

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.


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.


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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Images from “Hess’ Corners” Presentation, February 2016

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on February 29, 2016

About 80 people turned out to hear Ann Waidelich describe the businesses along Atwood Ave. from Ohio Street to Fair Oaks Ave.

The intersection of Atwood and Fair Oaks was originally called Hess’ Corners for Louis Hess and his general store/ice cream parlor at 2901 Atwood,  but today we know it as the Birrenkott’s – Lowell School intersection.

Hess' Corners, circa 1945

Hess’ Corners, circa 1945

Some of the businesses that Ann talked about were:

next door brewing

2437-39 Atwood
Appliance Service Center/Next Door Brewing
Melvill (Bud) Johnston started in the small appliance repair business when he got out of the Army after World War II.  He was in business at this address from 1956 – 1980.  Then his longtime employee Dan Belanger took over. A 1974 Wisconsin State Journal article reported that he had 13 employees each specializing in a particular appliance and together they repaired between 50 and 75 appliances each day.  The appliance business was renamed ASC1, now specializing in commercial food service equipment repair, and has moved to Femrite Drive.  Next Door Brewing remodeled the building and opened in 2013.

Mel Grocery-Victory

2710 Atwood
Grocery Store / Victory Cafe
Built in 1911, this building has been a grocery store since at least 1923. First it was run by John Ludwig, then Art Elsby until he moved across the street, then Henry Struckmeyer, then Aline Kurth, then Ignatius Schey, then Bob Cunningham. Finally Mel Amborn bought out Bob Cunningham in 1963. Kids from St. Bernard’s school were frequent “shoppers”.  The grocery closed when Mel died in 1991.  In 2007 the storefront housed the St. John the Baptist Gallery & Bookstore and the painting studio of Drazen Dupor, who specialized in painting Byzantine religious icons.  Since 2010 it has been the Victory Café coffee Shop.

Cecile Burke, Cecil's Sandals

Cecile Burke, Cecil’s Sandals

2730 Atwood
Barber Shop / Cecil’s Sandals 
Opened as a barbershop in 1910 owned by Bernard Funsett for 50 years until 1960. Then the barbershop was owned by LeRoy Flansburgh until he moved to the Buckeye Barber Shop.  Cecil Burke started making sandals in Madison in 1952 at 536 University Ave.  The shop was thought to be the third oldest custom maker of sandals in the U.S. at the time. Cecil opened his repair-only shop on Atwood Ave. ca. 1969 and operated until 2000.  He worked there along with his mother, Isabelle, his sister Judy Pellett, and Vincent Castagna, who began repairing shoes in Italy in 1920. The repair business continued as Jim Maierhofer’s Atwood Shoe Repair from 2001-2004. Various businesses occupied the little shop until the building was torn down in about 2013.

Schroeder vet clinic

2733 Atwood

Indian Mound ? Service Station/Community Care Vet Clinic
Vincent Esser recalled that “the lot at the corner of Atwood and Miller Avenues was maybe five or six feet higher than the sidewalk and there were large trees.  As we went back and forth to Lowell school we would run up onto the top and along the length and then down at the other end.  There was a path on top made by all the footsteps going by.”  Was this a linear Indian Effigy Mound?

A Shell gas station was built on the location in 1949. From 1968 – 73 it was Tom Brinker’s Auto Upholstery ,which moved to E. Washington Ave. The Brownberry Oven Thrift Store operated here from 1976-1992, then a video repair service, followed by Bongo Video Rental, then Spiritual Vibes 2008-2010 .  (They now call themselves Cosmic Delights and are located at 2334 Atwood Ave.)  After a major remodeling the building reopened in February 2015 and is now Dr. Deb Schroeder’s Community Care Veterinary Clinic.

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February 20 Meeting: History of “Hess’s 
Corners” (Fair Oaks Ave. & Atwood Ave.)

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on January 25, 2016

Aerial photo over Madison's east side...

Aerial view of “Hess’s Corners” taken in summer 2010, courtesy of David Hull and Diane King

Ann Waidelich will present a slide show on the businesses at the east end of Atwood Ave. from St. Bernards Church to Olbrich Gardens, and Fair Oaks Avenue to Starkweather Creek.  Featured will be the businesses that have occupied the Fair Oaks Hotel site, now Birrenkott’s Appliance store. Bring your memories/memorabilia to share.

Saturday February 20,

2:30–4pm in the Evjue Room

Goodman Community Center

149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation

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