Few neighborhoods in the Madison area offer the variety of homes that appear in the Nakoma Historic District, where one of our newest listings is located.
Among the hilly, curvilinear streets just west of the UW-Arboretum you’ll find numerous Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival styles as well as a smattering of Mediterranean Revival, Norman Revival, Dutch Colonial, French Provincial, Arts and Crafts, Prairie School, Craftsman Bungalow, Modern, and International styles.
Some of the best local architectural firms of the 20th century, including Henry Dysland and Law, Law, and Potter, designed these homes, which were built between 1915-1946. This time period was one of immense growth and greater mobility in Madison from streetcars to automobiles, leading to the development of more suburbs like Nakoma on the city’s west side. The land, which was once used by Native Americans for camp sites and later by European settlers for farming, is considered one of the most distinguished residential neighborhoods in Madison.
Nakoma was especially sought after because of its beautiful views, a new school building in 1917, and the establishment of a country club in the early 1920s, according to The Nakoma Neighborhood Walking Tour. Many affluent families, such as university professors and business owners, initially resided here. The tour booklet includes a quote from Madison Realty Co. which said, “The rolling landscape facing south and east, with an unobstructed view of Lake Wingra, the Capitol, the University, and the city, seemed an ideal location for a large community of homes...The lots are large and the streets are broad and inviting as they follow the sweeping curves at the base of the hills. The general result was to leave the land as nature made it, unmarred by the cutting through of streets, so common in the conventional city plat.”
Of the nearly 500 historic homes in Nakoma, 115 are picturesque Tudor Revival styles, which adapted Europe’s medieval building characteristics to modern American needs.
Although they share some similarities, such as steeply-pitched multi-gable roofs, an irregular outline, multi-pane windows, and large chimneys, they are anything but cookie-cutter.
For example, the large Steelholm (Wisconsin Magazine president) House at 733 Huron Hill, one of the earliest Tudor Revival houses built in Nakoma in 1923, has stucco exterior walls rather than the more common mixture of stone and brick. Built two years later at 1001 Seminole Highway is the Tiffany (professor and dress shop owner) House, which expertly used wooden shingles to imitate the thatched roofs of England’s cottages, making it the most expensive home in Nakoma prior to World War II. In 1926, the Rennebohm (drugstore founder) House was built at 3906 Cherokee Drive, featuring symmetrical rather than the typical asymmetrical design with stone, decorative half-timber, and clapboard siding.
4117 Nakoma Road
A charming subset of the Tudor Revival is the cottage style, which is illustrated by this lovely 1920s home at 4117 Nakoma Road.
Characterized by its asymmetrical appearance, stucco siding and sloping gable roof, the vertical half-timber accents above the sunroom and brick entryway add a touch of whimsy to the 4 bedroom home.
The house is set back from the road and features a sprawling yard and tidy landscaping with a terrace garden.
Behind the property is an access driveway (which the city snow plows) that leads to the garage and private patio and deck.
This is a quiet spot to relax and enjoy a glass of wine outside with privacy provided by the beautiful climbing clematis.
Having previously lived in a Cape Cod in Sunset Village, the Jones family was drawn to the Nakoma neighborhood because of its stunning old homes and excellent location. With children still in school, the neighborhood offered great schools: Thoreau Elementary, Cherokee Middle and West High School, or Edgewood. The commute downtown to work was relatively quick and easy; the UW-Madison campus, even closer.
The location then and now has much to offer, including the UW-Arboretum, just a short walk away, offering a beautiful, quiet urban retreat year-round.
Also nearby is the Nakoma Golf Club, with its 18-hole golf course, pool, and tennis courts.
Many popular Monroe Street amenities also are within easy walking distance, or one can leave the car at home and take the bus. Biking also is an option, with Southwest Commuter Bike Path.
Dick and Joy Jones have lived here since 1987 and have made significant improvements to update their house while retaining its historic character, including rebuilding the chimney, restoring the living room fireplace to expose the brickwork and install a gas insert, repairing the interior plaster and exterior stucco, and refinishing the original oak and maple wood floors.
Some other elements thought to be original include the candle light fixture in the entryway, the glass door knobs and hardware on the doors and cabinets throughout the house, the tile floor and tub in the upstairs bathroom, and the laundry shoot from the upper level to the basement.
Having a nearly century-old home prompted the Jones family to get everything up to code by removing the knob and tube wiring and investing in electrical and plumbing improvements and energy efficient appliances. The roof has been replaced twice during their time here, most recently in 2015.
The Jones family has also completed three sets of State Historic Tax Credit projects. The biggest project in 2004, totaling about $45,000, was a total kitchen remodel, featuring cupboards extending to the ceiling to allow for more storage, new countertops, windows, and appliances, and an installed wood floor.
They also relocated the first floor half bathroom from the kitchen area to a closet near the back door.
The kitchen leads into the grand dining room.
This space features a beamed ceiling, a painted corner hutch, and an elegant California lantern.
Through the foyer and front hall is the living room, and the centralized fireplace is complete with a custom mantle.
“I love the windows in our living room, which allow light from both sides -- actually, three sides if you count the window by the fireplace,” Dick said of the multi-pane Marvin double-hung windows, which are energy efficient and have an aluminum clad exterior and stained wood interior.
Another State Historic Tax Credit project included the creation of their favorite room of the house in 1999: the sunroom. They converted what originally had been a porch (enclosed, uninsulated, and drafty) to a four-season sunroom with oak flooring to match the original hardwood floors.
This quiet nook soaks up the sun from three sets of windows especially in winter -- a perfect place to enjoy a book and a cup of coffee.
Another neat feature of the home is the layout of the upstairs. The L-shaped railing with spindles creates an openness in the hallway (where the pull down stairs to the attic are located), and there is also outside access to the custom built deck at the top of the stairs.
Each bedroom has a beautiful view and unique closets, one of which has additional space that runs behind the chimney. The original maple floor in the front bedroom has been refinished, and the back bedroom floors are scheduled to be refinished in August.
The major remodeling projects -- sunroom, kitchen, first-floor bath, and main and second-floor window replacements -- were all done by contractor Ron Binter, their good friend and neighbor who is now retired. The Jones home at 4117 Nakoma is just one of many in the historic district restored and improved thanks to the great work of Binter and his Fine Line Construction crew. Binter also lives in a historic home, the Charles Juckem House listed in the Nakoma Neighborhood Walking Tour booklet. The Juckem House at 4202 Mandan Crescent is one of only five bungalows in Nakoma and the only identified catalog house in Nakoma, a Sears, Roebuck & Co., “Hazelton” model.
In total, the Jones family has invested well over $100,000 in upgrades to their historic home in the last 30 years. Joy said it was a “good feeling” to make the updates, from the big projects down to the little details, like the new multi-pane windows that bring in the natural light while keeping noise out, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.