Historic architecture abounds in Westmorland

Posted by Samantha Haas on Friday, August 18th, 2017 at 12:36pm.

Bordered by a bike trail, golf course, Mineral Point Road and South Midvale Boulevard is a near westside Madison neighborhood filled with historic architecture.

Westmorland features an assortment of home styles dating from the 1860s to 1950s. Within a few block radius is a barn that has been converted into a house, a Frank Lloyd Wright prototype and other mid-century moderns, classic Cape Cods, Tudor revival and International styles, Sears catalog homes and a few made of steel.

The Westmorland Neighborhood Association -- the fourth oldest in Madison -- produced a video promoting its oral history book and described Westmorland as a "microcosm reflecting Midwestern America's progress throughout the 20th century."

That statement certainly rings true when you walk by the houses from various time periods, but it helps if you have a guide to explain what you're seeing.

Walking tour

The Madison Trust for Historic Preservation offers a summer walking tour series of eight distinct neighborhoods to educate the public about their historic significance, from the UW-Madison campus to Sunset Hills.

I was among about 40 people who visited Westmorland for a "Twilight Tour" in July. Even though the sun was still out, the mosquitoes were, too -- so plan ahead with appropriate outdoor clothing and bug spray.

The large group was split into two, and we were in luck that one of the guests grew up in the neighborhood and shared personal insights about some of the homes and their occupants.

While walking past the Meyer House, a classic bungalow built in 1910 along Glenway Street, the owner happened to be outside and surprised us by welcoming everyone inside to walk through the main level. He even showed us some pictures of the house from many years ago.

Other homes that stood out during the walk included a couple of prefabricated steel Lustron homes, which feature pastel-colored, porcelain-enameled square panels. Built in 1949, seven of Madison's remaining 22 homes of this style are located in Westmorland.

We also saw Frank Lloyd Wright's first Usonian house with carport built in 1937 on Toepfer Avenue, which has been restored by an art professor and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

The tours are about an hour long and are held rain or shine Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings from June through the end of September. Tickets also include a coupon for a drink or food item at a nearby establishment where the group gathers after the tour.

There are two more opportunities this season to attend the "Westmorland: From Farmland to Frank Lloyd Wright" tour this season: 11 a.m. on Aug. 19 and Sept. 23.

For more on the neighborhood, click here to check out the Westmorland real estate guide and homes for sale.

Check it out

What: Historic Architecture Walking Tours
When: 6 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. Saturdays from June 1 through September 30
Where: Eight various neighborhoods throughout Madison
Cost: $10 adults, $5 students, free for Madison Trust members
Info: madisonpreservation.org

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