The times, they are a-changin’. From the Quonset huts and Badger Village of the late forties to the rooftop pools and door attendants of today’s apartments, the off-campus housing landscape at the UW looks different every year.
For this issue of Badger Insider, we asked you to share your most memorable off-campus housing experiences. Were you living in the lap of luxury with a room to yourself and a view? Or did you have to fight off your five roommates for counter space in your one bathroom? We heard tales of it all: from postwar, makeshift villages to high-rises, here’s how off-campus housing has evolved during the UW’s history — and in many ways, stayed the same.
My brothers, Chuck '53 and Frank '55 and I lived in the University YMCA during our times at the U of W. The 'old' Y was between the Red Armory and the Memorial Union right on Lake Mendota. Chuck remembers going to ROTC in the basement of the Y and more fondly having beds made for $5 per week from '49-'51. Perhaps the most interesting experience was my freshmen year '52 after the Y had been condemned by the fire department. We all were confined to the second floor, to give us a better chance to escape any fires. Among the interesting characters at the Y that year were several UW freshmen football players including Charlie Thomas, the backup to Alan Ameche that year and a starter for several years. Charlie headed up the UW Alumni Association in '?'. Besides being a convenient location for classes and work, at the MU, being in a relatively small group created lots of long-term memories.
George Kuhlman ’56
I was an undergraduate at UW Madison for five years, 1953-58, earning degrees in civil engineering and naval science and teaching part-time in the school of engineering during my last two years. For the entire five years, I lived in one of three rooms (four years with a roommate) in the second story of the home owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bob Stewart, a couple who lived on the south side of Randall Court. This happened to be within a few blocks of Randall Arch, outside of the former training ground for new recruits to the Union Army during the Civil War. These recruits included one of my great grandfathers, newly arrived from Norway. I ate all my meals Monday through Saturday at the “Three Squares Club” that met in the basement of the Methodist Church on University Avenue. The three meals/day cost $1.15 plus 20 minutes of work as I recall. The Stewarts were a generous couple. They charged me $5 a week and Mrs. Stewart often also did my laundry, refusing payment. Since I was to be married upon graduation, Mr. Stewart, a used car salesman, spent most of the last year looking for the perfect car for me and my wife, Karen, also a student at UW-Madison – and he found the perfect one two months before graduation. Due to the generosity of the Stewarts and the availability of the Three Squares Club, the costs for my university education always totaled less than $1000/year!
Jim Christenson ’57, ’57
During my time in graduate school, I share an apartment with three other girls, one of them from Thailand. We moved 3 times with two on Mound Street and one right off University Avenue. Each of them consisted of an entire floor in a house. We had our own furniture that had been given to one of the roommates so we had 2 twin beds and 1 set of bunk beds as well as all other necessities although we had to buy a stove for our last apartment This apartment became a gathering place for about 20 Thai students with plenty of meals cooked by them. My friendship with my roommate from apartment Thailand has continued to this day; I just returned from visiting her in November 2017. This opportunity only came about because I was living off-campus.
Sally Ann Woock ’54, MS’59
Winter Park, FL
During the spring Sem of the 51-52 school year, I got a really good deal for student housing. I got a free room located in the sheep barn in exchange for feeding the sheep on weekends. The University farms were located where the Hilldale mall is now. The sheep barn was where the DOT building is now. I rode my bike to the campus every day.
Edwin Kinnunen ’53
I lived at Truax Field for the first six months. Out of stater and no accommodations for us. Four to a room in a Quonset hut. Then I went to a private home and shared a room with my roommate. We both were from the same high school from the Bronx, NYC. We moved several times over the years, with the last and nicest place on State St near the campus. I was a great cook.
Al Meyers ’53
On a hot August day in 1951, my mother and I drove to Madison from the home farm west of Wild Rose. I had graduated from Wild Rose High School in early June, at the age of 16. And I had received a scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Neither of my parents had graduated from eighth grade, so the idea of attending a university was a mystery to them, as is was to our extended family. I knew nothing of what to expect at the UW, but on this trip, my mother was concerned about finding a place for me to live. We had already checked on staying in a dorm, but the prices were way beyond our reach.
We stopped at the University Housing Bureau on Sterling Court—a street that no longer exists. There I spotted a notice for a room for rent on Orchard Street. We asked for directions, and soon we pulled up to this three-story home. Roy Pein, the owner, met us and showed us the room he had for rent. He told us he had four rooms for rent, and this was the last one. The others were already taken.
My mother and I followed Mr. Pein up some stairs to the room, which was located at the end of a little hall. Once inside, I saw a bed, dresser, and a small desk. And a sink. We had no indoor plumbing at home, so the idea of a sink in my room was unbelievable. “How much are you asking for rent?” my mother asked. “Five dollars a week,” he answered.
“Is that number firm?” my mother asked, always hoping a little bargaining might pay off. “Yes, the number is firm,” said Mr. Pein. “How is your home heated?” my mother asked. Our drafty farmhouse was heated with wood burning stoves. “We have a furnace in the basement,” he answered.
Satisfied with the answer, my mother turned to me. “Well, what do you think?”
“Looks good to me,” I answered, unable to hide my glee in being able to stay in a warm room with a sink. I spent four years in that same room. The rent stayed at five dollars a week for the entire time. I prepared must of my meals there with an electric hot plate. My refrigerator, as soon as cold weather arrived, was on the window sill, between the window and the storm window. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to have such a fantastic room, where I could study, read, listen to my radio and cook my own meals.
Jerry Apps ’51, MS’57, PhD’67
During WW II the US Government operated a munitions plant about 35 miles North of Madison near Baraboo called Badger Ordinance and a quickly erected plywood city to house the workers. After the war the “city” lay empty until the University and the Feds agreed to use the facilities for married vets. Badger Village as it was called was great. I think the rent was $35/month with free electricity and water. The plywood walls were uninsulated, but the rooms were small and we sat up close to our oil heater in the winter. My 1st daughter was born here (actually at UW General the night before a final physics exam). Badger Village had a post office, and A & P store, a gym, an activities center and most friendliest atmosphere among the students and spouses. We were independent. There was a basketball league and if you didn’t know how to play bridge you soon learned riding the old school bus (1 hour ride each way). There were sheets of masonite placed across the aisle so people in the inside seats could play. Everyone had a deck of cards in his briefcase. And since we brown bagged it for lunch there was another hour of bridge then.
There was a North Badger and a South Badger. We lived in South Badger as they were trying to close North Badger as the vet population started to decrease, The advantage of North Badger was they had central steam heat for all the residences. The living quarters were in long barracks-style buildings with 3 or 4 units per building. Our home, 30F, was at the south end of our building which made it colder in the winter, but the field next to us was planted in corn. So we ate a lot of corn for a while. We had many friends and neighbors there who we lost contact with when Badger was closed and we moved back to Madison. However, the memory of that great experience will be with me always.
Wilton Nelson ’54
In the Navy three plus years, I met many sailors who planned on college, unlike me; they got me interested. In January, 1949, I enrolled in UW after passing a course in Geometry to meet minimum requirements.
I rented a room from a family in an apartment near Camp Randall Stadium, handy to the miniature campus compared to that now. Yet there were 24,000 students, classes in old military Quonset huts and not many cars. I never had enough time for all desired campus activities, Student Union entertainment, interesting foreign movies, athletic contests including boxing, but the more I participated my grades improved.
Twelve dollars a month gave me a bed and a desk, and breakfast. It was what I needed to begin; the GI Bill provided tuition, books and $65. a month. I joined the Three Squares Club at the Wesley Foundation and received lunch and dinner five days a week for $7.00. I saved a few bucks a month, hitchhiked home to Oconomowoc once a month and took the train back Sunday evenings.
Two years later I was recalled to the Navy and returned to campus in June 1952. I owned a car, had more money and the GI Bill now paid $100, so I was able to rent a better off-campus room for $25 per month. I seldom saw another roomer. I went straight through summers and semesters until I graduated (and married the same day) in August 1953, but I was not as active in campus activities.
Ronald D. Johnson ’53
Living in Barnard hall for my undergraduate years would probably not be considered off-campus housing. But it was the best place to be for me as a freshman in the school of music. The location was perfect and I had a great roommate in my freshman year living on the 5th floor which was the top floor. For the next 2 years, I moved into a single on the 2nd floor. Then moved to Langdon street to my sorority chi omega as a senior. There everyone had 1 or 2 roommates. The walk up Bascom hill kept you in shape and wore off any extra pounds gained from the excellent meals served at Barnard Hall.
Isabel Erichsen Hubbard ’57, MS’79
My off-campus housing was WAY-OFF campus in that I commuted from Oregon for four years. I didn't have a car so had to employ a variety of transportation. Greyhound bus, fellow commuting classmates. ( Winter commutes in a friend's beat up old Chevy that had no heater or defroster were especially challenging. Nothing like sticking my arm out the front window to scrape ice and snow off the windshield while traveling north on Highway 14 on a frigid January morning!) I'm sure my dad must have driven me in emergencies and two younger brothers eventually attended the UW and I rode with them. There was no such thing as a social life those four years. No dorm, sorority or fraternity parties, but I got my UW education, the first of ten siblings to do so.
Marilyn Bogen ’58
As a transfer student from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1955 for my junior and senior years, I could only find off-campus housing. I found a room in an older house on Lake Street just off University Avenue which cost $5 a week and the owner of the house changed the sheets once a week. I shared the room on the second floor with another student — the first year a senior engineering student and h the second year with a Korean War vet from Port Washington.
My budget was pretty tight since I worked my way through college (you could do that in those days). On University Avenue was Gannon’s Restaurant where for 25 cents we could get a breakfast of two pancakes, a fried egg, and coffee. For 30 cents we could get three pancakes.
About a month into September, a job opened up in Food Service at Elizabeth Waters Hall at noon. It paid 80 or 85 cents an hour or a meal. Since dinner was the best meal a day for a hungry student, that’s what I chose. Also, a number of the residents would not want dessert, and since my fellow workers and I ate early at a table just outside the servery, the women would often drop off their desserts for a group of grateful men.
The Liz Waters opportunity expanded and eventually I was able to work at all the meals, sometimes in the servery and other times in the dishwashing area. We had our own lockers in the building basement and were allowed to use the women’s pier when the warm weather would allow.
The price of the rooming house dropped to $2.50 a week in the summer which I took advantage of to finish my bachelor’s degree. The rooming house was two blocks from the old location of The Daily Cardinal for which I covered boxing for the sports section.
All in all, with the affordable room, my job at Liz Waters and a part-time editorial job with a labor union, I finished my career at Wisconsin with a degree in journalism and $50 still in my bank account.
Gerald Cornell ’57
Bethel Park, PA
Re: off-campus housing. Langdon Hall such a wonderful situation. Close to campus, Greek row, the “Farm” and the Brat Haus. Had two different rooms with a view, a lovely housemother in charge, rec. room downstairs, supreme food, strict curfews and rules, AND would you believe at the beautiful and special Graduation Banquet, each officer of L. Hall received two serving pieces of her Sterling Silver flatware pattern. Unreal…
One serious problem was a fire in the trash shoot; out on Lake Street in bathrobes and p-js, all six floors evacuated. One of my biggest concerns was my end-of-the-year term paper in process. Thankfully, no one was injured and upon returning to the top floor, my draft ’s many papers were just as I had left them on my bed.
Susan Van Horn Barnet ’61
Menlo Park, CA
I graduated in the summer of 1962 and probably moved in and out of about 13 places in my 4 years of college. I got out of the Navy in 1958 and lived at home for the first semester and after that in places from a room in a private home to apartments and flats from with as many as 2 to 5 of us. Because I had been in the Navy I could live off campus right away and didn't have to wait until after my freshman year. The last place was the best of all. In the summer of 1962 when I (the only student in the group) lived with 3 other guys In an apartment on Monona Avenue across the Lake form downtown Madison. Our apartment was on the bottom floor next to the lake so we could look and see downtown Madison across the lake. Lots of other single people in the building so we would party until after midnight on many occasions. Great time. In September, after summer school, I moved to Minneapolis to work for General Mills.
Jerry Doran ’62
Being a “farm boy” from Stoughton my enrollment at UW – Madison and moving the big city in 1957 was quite an “adjustment”. The only other time that I had ever stayed overnight anywhere was in Janesville when I was showing cattle & hogs for 4H Rock County Fair. Since I was on the Wrestling Team, Coach Martin found me a room on Jefferson Street for $5 a week. My roommate was also a Wrestler. The two of us shared the upstairs of a house along with 3 engineering students. We had one bathroom & no cooking facilities. Coach Martin also found me a “meal job” at Langdon Hall, a girls dormitory. I washed pots & pans & kept the storage room clean for 13 meals and a dollar a day. We got lunch & dinner every day except Sunday and that day we only got lunch. Therefore, I had the $5 to pay my rent and $2 for the Sunday evening meal. Tuition was $90 a semester and I earned that & expense money by driving a cement block truck for Janesville Sand & Gravel in the summer. Life was good!
Duane Kleven ’61, MS’63
Can you believe that my twin sister and I lived all four years of our undergraduate UW college years at 2150 West Lawn Ave., where we had lived since 1946, attended Randall Elementary School and West High School? Cindy and I were the fifth and sixth children of William T. and Alice Bandy. I remember Daddy encouraging me to apply to colleges other than the UW, where he had long served as professor and then chair of the French department. He was probably relieved that I chose the UW to pursue my major in Slavic languages and that it was okay with me to live "at home" and save him some money, since Mom was battling her final years in a decade-long struggle with cancer, after serving for much of my childhood as a pioneering recipient of many new chemotherapies offered by the UW Hospital. While I may have missed out on the excitement of dorm life, my education at the UW, which included a junior year abroad studying Russian at the French university in Aix en Provence while my dad served as director of that program, was superb. It prepared me to go continue my graduate studies in the Russian department at Harvard University, where I received free tuition and stipend for rent and living expenses. By then I had married my husband Michael D. Oberdorfer, a Zoology Department Ph.D. candidate at the UW, who joined me for a year while I was at Harvard but returned with me to Madison to complete his degree after our son Peter was born in Cambridge, Mass., after my grad school Spring Break... We enjoyed the next few years at the UW's wonderful Eagle Heights "married student" housing, and Mike earned his Ph.D., while I dabbled in Russian studies. After all these years we have reservations to stay in Chadbourne Hall this summer during the UW in the 60s celebration! Finally, I will get a UW dorm experience!
Carol Oberdorfer ’68
Because I completed my first two years with the Univ. at the Extension Center in Wausau, WI, and because the Univ. in Madison had granted me a teaching scholarship for a full semester in my senior year, I had only one semester as an off-campus student in a large three story house beside the Congregational Church on Breeze Terrace. It was a walkable distance from classes and there were 6 of us at a time in that third story apartment. Carol Stamm Beckius and Sandra Mushel were lab tech seniors while the rest of us were headed for teaching careers at that time... Laurel Hoffman, Joy Booth, Ann Hanneman and I, that is. The fascinating thing about this living arrangement that has endured the test of time is that Carol Beckius took the initiative to encourage us all to meet for a reunion at the 50th in Madison. Not everybody could make it but because of our initial experience on Breeze Terrace, some of us enjoyed the 2013 50th reunion in Madison, of which we have heartwarming memories. We all continue to keep in touch with each other from time to time. Not only did the Univ. teach us of lifelong learning but we continue as lifelong friends.
Blanche Grade Griffin ’63, MS’76
I spent my first three semesters off-campus as a fireman for the Maple Bluff Fire Department (a suburb of Madison). I lived in the fire station and was paid enough to cover my groceries (I did my own cooking). This was a program explicitly created for up to two college students at a time. I had another UW student fireman as a roommate. We were free to go to campus for classes during the day and were "on duty" while studying in the evening and sleeping at night and on the weekends. Fortunately Maple Bluff was a well-to-do, well-kept suburb (the Governor's mansion was located there) so there weren't a lot of fire calls to disrupt our studies or sleep.
Phil Pfund ’66
North Canton, OH
My off-campus housing was Eagle Heights which had just been opened. It was affordable and a beautiful long walk along Lake Mendota from MaCardle laboratory for Cancer research under Harold Rusch. Along my walk, I would pass the tent colony married students who even managed living there through the winter. My husband was in medical school and when he was on the VA hospital rotation I would not have a car. I would catch a bus in Parking lot 60. In the winter I was very pregnant and it was icy slipping and sliding to catch the bus and the nice driver would hold the bus and lift me safely up & on. My husband and I met a couple in Eagle Heights we shared adventures with. We met a farmer who sold us a sailboat for $20.00. There was a small inlet along the lake and that is where we parked the boat for 2 years until the rotted mast broke nearly decapitating us. The sail had many holes and it is a wonder that we managed to make it around Picnic Point.
Susan Sisson Pohle ’61
My favorite off-campus housing was the 18 months or so that I lived in a half basement apartment in the 600 block of Spruce Street which was one block South of Olin Ave just off Park Street. My nickname is Duck and the apartment became known as the Duck Cave as this was in 66/67 around the time Batman was on TV and had his Batcave. The highlight of the Duck Cave was the famous fireplace which consisted of a fake fireplace with a red light bulb and a piece of tin foil on top that would rotate when it got heated up. The Duck Cave was the location of the Tuesday/Thursday Club which consisted of a group of friends from the Fiji House and the Manor that would come over after hours for cards and cocktails and the occasional game of beer bottle bowling with the pins being empty bottles of Bud and the bowling ball was a roll of TP.
Pete Fowler ’68
In my Junior year, I finally managed to convince my conservative parents to let me move out of Chadbourne and into an apartment. Right after Thanksgiving a friend and I signed a lease on an Orchard Street abode. Now since I was a Music major, the neighborhood was not familiar at all. A couple of weeks later, my music fraternity for women, Sigma Alpha Iota, had a beer supper at an electrical engineering fraternity, Kappa Eta Kappa, on Orchard Street. I went and met a really nice and polite guy who walked me home. As we're heading down the street I glanced up and said, "Hey! I just rented an apartment here for next year." My now husband of 49 years as of June 28, 2018, said the thought flashed through his mind, "Well, this is either going to be extremely convenient next year or extremely awkward!" I think you can figure out which one it was! He never had to walk far to pick me up in 1968-1969.
Jennifer Johnson Arndt, BM 1969
Richard Arndt, BS 1969, MS 1971
During my last year and a half at the university, I lived in a one-room apartment in the Kennedy Manor at one Langdon Street. It was by far the best living arrangement I had while attending the UW and I can still vividly and fondly recall the time I spent there. To my knowledge, I was the only student aged person living in the building and as a result, it was very peaceful and quiet. I was so lucky to have found the place.
Charles Hurlbut ’69
Prince George, VA
I didn't live off campus but I do remember sliding 2/3 of the way down that side of the Hill and down that stairway at the bottom (would've taken out the 4 girls and the guy) on an icy night after a sleet storm in the late 50's.
Haldor Barnes ’60, MD’66
In graduate school in the mid-60s and early 70s, I lived in the shared women's apartment building at 433 West Gilman Street. We had a house mother who monitored our comings and goings, making sure there were no men in the apartments after about 11 p.m. My apartment had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchen for six girls. We each rented our space individually but became friends or at least close acquaintances with each other fairly quickly. There was a Safeway nearby which was convenient, and we were only a half mile from the library and from Bascom Hill. I remember some issues with the shared kitchen which only had a small table with two chairs. And there was never enough room in the refrigerator. We were supposed to entertain guests in the central lounge (a few sofas and chairs) on each floor, not in our rooms. I thought it quite luxurious at the time and stayed there for three years. Since I was already married my third year in the building with my husband living out of town but visiting weekends, the house mother kindly offered to turn her back every time she saw him so she was not a party to my breaking the rules by having him overnight.
Judith Livingston MA’65, PhD’77
In the fall of 1963, my boyhood friend and I decided to get an off-campus apartment and ended up on Lake Street between University Avenue and State Street. We paid $90 a month which was pretty pricey for that time and our parents thought we were nuts to pay that much. It was a very old 2 story (no longer there of course) across the street from what is now the Lake Street parking ramp. But the location was good for us as we were pursuing careers in pharmacy in my case and dentistry for my friend Dave. (He went on to Marquette Dental School and a career in oral surgery). We had a second-floor apartment consisting of 2 rooms and a small closet. We had a kitchen and a bedroom with bunk beds and our desks. We shared a bathroom with a single man across the hall who was a UW employee. We must have been pretty stinky as there was no shower and I don’t remember using the bathtub much. I was in the UW marching band and we had some good times when our girlfriends visited from out of town. I will never forget the day President John F Kennedy was shot as we were at a laundromat on University Avenue and were totally shocked at the news. Everything stopped as we tried to find some friends who had a black and white television with coverage of all that was happening. Hard Times- Fond Memories
John Twesme ’66
In 1962 I was given the task of painting the interior of my fraternity (Phi Delta Theta) in return I could live there free for that summer. I was working in a Nutrena feed mill in Fitchburg during the day and every evening I would paint. Naturally, I had some free time and was able to discreetly entertain some "friends" in MY house at 222 Langdon. It didn't get much better than that!!
Rick Frederick ’66
I lived in off-campus housing in Madison from 1961 to 1964. My first place was on Frances st., near Lake Mendota. Cozy, pleasant, and I liked it very much. Easy walk to campus. Lots of sororities and fraternities in the area. Some of the tenants were weird. One guy was a voyeur who spent hours spying on the sororities with binoculars. Another was a Texan who could not understand how there could be snow on the ground when the sun was shining. He dressed like an Eskimo. Another guy, whom we called "streak" was very noisy because of his gait. He would rush to his classes in four-foot-long strides. So my memories of off-campus life were more of weirdos than the quality of housing. I heard one story of a student entertaining his girlfriend with a candlelight dinner in his crowded flat. During the meal, his roommate was taking a shower in preparation for a date. The plumbing system was not the greatest and too many people in the building turned on their cold-water taps and the poor guy came screaming out of the shower and banged into his roommate's dining table. How romantic! Later I lived at another rooming house. I think it was on Mifflin St. It also was pleasant. I couldn't complain about the housing. It was spartan but pleasant. I have fond memories of my days at UW. I had to work my way through college and things were tough. My car was a 1950 4-door Buick Roadmaster that got 11 miles a gallon on the highway. On semester breaks I would haul three other students to my hometown of Sheboygan. These were the days before the baby boomers took over the campus starting in 1964. Also, tuition, when I graduated, was only $150 a semester. My first job after graduating was as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune at $120 a week -- a very good salary for a starting journalist in those days.
Steve Maersch ’64
It’s 1957, and after a year in the dorms, I’m finding myself having too much fun, and not enough studying. So, I resolve to rent a room and spend all my spare time in the libraries.
On a late summer trip to Madison with my used-car dealer father, we treat ourselves to a hamburger at Glenn and Ann’s Tap down on Johnson Street. Owner Glenn Hierlmeier was born and raised in my hometown of Medford and had owned this bar for several years. The bar is now known as the Nitty Gritty. Explaining to Glenn why we were in town (in addition to buying cars), my father said to Glenn, “the kid here wants to rent a room.” Glenn waved his arm to his left and said, “Well you should go next door and check with Mrs. Williams, she rents a few rooms.”
I went next door and inquired. Turns out that my timing was right, because Mrs. Williams said, “Why yes, I do have one room for rent, but it is a double.” She showed me the room, which seemed quite adequate to me. It was furnished with two beds, two bookcases, and two small chests of drawers. There was also a table, a closet, and a shared bathroom next door. The lone window looked out on Glenn and Ann’s Tap.
When she explained that the rent would be ten dollars a week, I said “I’ll take it” assuming that I’d find a roommate to spill for the other five. In fact, I ended up rooming with my high school classmate Dave LaFontaine.
Each evening we would traipse over to Glenn and Ann’s for a dinner, then priced at $1.00. For a dollar, you got meat and potatoes, a vegetable, a slice of bread with butter, a glass of milk, and some form of dessert. Since my food budget was $15 a week, that dinner was everything I could have wanted. It even left $1 for a pitcher of beer on a Saturday night.
We stayed there for the next three years, and became good friends with both Glenn and Ann, and Mrs. Williams, whose granddaughter later became my wife!
Harvey Malchow ’61
I spent two years in the SE dorms plus two years in a single family home on Adams Street near Camp Randal in 1969-71. It was originally a two bedroom home which had been modified with an enclosed rear porch and a converted dining room. Five of us from the dorm got it and stayed together for two years. We took turns cooking and divided the chores. Each semester we rotated chores and bedrooms so everyone had an equal opportunity. One guy had an old chest freezer which we hauled to the basement so we could store enough food for a week. We were organized because there were two engineers, two scientists, and an accountant. We all got along well. We all remain friends to this day. The only disadvantage was that the only shower was a portable one in the basement which made for quick dry off during the winter.
Jeff Stillwell ’71
Walnut Creek, PA
Had a roommate who cooked liver & onions every so often. The liver stunk up the house so bad I would leave the house for anywhere from 8 hours to 24 hours. The house stunk for a week after it was so bad.
Bruce Gibson ’75
Shady Shores, TX
We lived on Langdon St in the late 60s during all the turmoil. A house with roommates, music, dogs, and never a dull moment. One day we'd have a music festival, the next day gas and police everywhere.
Tim Wipperman ’71
My first off-campus housing experience at UW-Madison was in 1974 in a second floor, furnished two bedroom apartment at 128 North Orchard Street. The building still stands. The building is very close to campus. Excellent location for the sciences. Once my roommates and I moved in we discovered that the apartment furnishings included mice. The kitchen had a bank of cabinets on one wall from floor to ceiling - several of which were inhabited with mice. The cabinets frequented by mice remained empty with the cabinet doors closed for the entire year we lived there. In retrospect, my roommates and I should have asked for a cat to be included with the apartment furnishings.
James Rinehart ’78, MS’84
Moving out of Witte Hall after my 1st yr at UW (May, '72) to sublet a closet for the summer on the 2nd floor of a 3-bed, 1bath house at 425 W. Dayton St. seemed a little risky but one of the gals lived across the hall from me in the dorm and the other 2 were her friends from the Boscobel area, so they seemed safe. And, the rent was right: $50/mo. Access to my closet was thru one of the bedrooms, but the perk was I had a door out onto the balcony that overlooked Dayton St! We had a "birds-eye" view of all the "busts" the cops made! Unnerving but an experience not to be equaled was the renter below us who regularly drove his Harley right into his livingroom...then revved the engine til the walls shook! When summer ended and the girls invited me to stay (for the same rent!) I was ecstatic! We all continued to live there til 1975 AND are still best friends today!!
Jennifer Fass ’75
I attended UW-Madison from 1974-1979. In my junior year, I shared a 3-bedroom, 1 bath apartment with 3 other girls who all met in a private dorm sophomore year. One bedroom was large enough to hold two beds and the other two bedrooms only one bed apiece. We switched rooms second semester so that everyone either had a single or double room experience. The kitchen being very small was only on one wall and in the same room as dining and living room, similar to today's "great room". We considered our living quarters as being better than living in the dorms even though the furnished apartment's furniture wasn't very desirable. The main thing is we didn't have to worry about bringing our own. Each girl had a particular cleaning duty and stuck with that entire year. Mine was the bathroom which I thought would be easier than the kitchen. Believe me, if you have a choice, don't pick the bathroom! Cleaning up after the three other girls is about as bad as it gets. No need to say anything further. Not one of us girls had a car on campus therefore to grocery shop we had to take a bus. I remember how well we ate the first few days, then as food dwindled so did our choices. We lived near a fraternity house off of Langdon Street. It was near Lake Mendota. At night bats would sometimes fly around outside, scaring us & running for cover. All in all, we got along with each other and had a great year!
Margie Canham ’79
There were seven of us living in an old house off Regent Street. There was a claw-foot bathtub that leaked in the single bathroom, but no shower. So a shower was rigged up in the musty old basement using a garden hose slung over a clothesline, and we showered with mostly cold water (even in winter) standing on a wooden pallet. And we all had to keep to the schedule worked out among us.
Tom Neumann ’72, ’77
I was living in the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity House on Mendota Court and had a great roommate for two years and so much fun with the brothers. Both years we had a room overlooking Lake Mendota and all the beer we could drink on tap in the basement. I can remember falling asleep listening to the waves lapping against the shore and thinking life doesn't get any better than this.
De Forest, WI
I attended UW from 1966-70. After a year in what was then a private dorm, Wisconsin Hall, and living in my fraternity house, I moved with two of my fraternity brothers to a 3-bedroom apartment on Fiedler Lane, which is just west of Park Street, just a short distance from the highway. The apartment buildings are still there, and they look as nice as they did almost 50 years ago. The apartment wasn't luxurious, but very livable. We each had our own bedroom. There was a nice kitchen and a nice living room. I don't recall how many bathrooms there were, but we had no problems on that score, and most of the time we had 6 of us staying there...girlfriends, you know!
Gary Sack ’70
I transferred to UW Madison in January 1971, from UW Whitewater where the English Department was suffering serious faculty trauma due to participation in anti-war demonstrations. Since I was born and raised in Madison, and my family lived there, I moved back home to a “really off campus” bedroom in my family home two blocks from East High School. I shared a bedroom with my 13/14-year-old sister for two years while I completed my BA in 17th-Century English Lit/Psychology ’72. Since there were also two younger brothers, I struggled to find a place to study once I was home, finally settling on the temporarily vacant home next door. We tended the house while the residents fled to Florida for the winter, so I dragged my typewriter to this house and sat in the 50-degree cold with zero distractions. With no car at my disposal, I took 2 city buses to campus, walked to the State Office Building on King Street to work and spent free time at Helen White, all the while trying not to get tear-gassed. It was a bit of a struggle, but it encouraged me to get out of there fast—finishing a double major in 3 ½ years. I was also preparing for a wedding, marrying my long-time sweetheart (Tim Reilly '72) 2 weeks after my December graduation!
Sue Hauser Reilly ’72
Thankful I am to have experienced living in my impactful, “naively carefree and flexible” years at UW when we just expected to “live simply.” When 4 friends and I moved into part of 38 Breese Terrace, it never occurred to us that it was a problem to share one small bathroom, even with its inconsistent plumbing. (Thanks, Mr. Buckley!). One of us was leaving campus second semester; we couldn’t afford to cover her rent in a bigger place, so the first semester, all five of us shared 2 small bedrooms, 2 teeny “closets,” and 2 bunk beds. One got a bed when one was available. Whoever went to bed the latest (almost always me) slept on the living room couch. Two summers later, 3-5 of us rented the first floor on Prospect Ave. We were unwilling to buy additional keys (probably $.50) so we generally left a front window partially open, stepped on a cement block (which we left outside), opened the window and climbed in. I am thankful we not only made it through those years but perhaps became more resilient, stronger and adventuresome... plus have maintained our amazing friendships!
Vicki Kuether DeMaster ’72
I lived in the dorms freshman year (1973-74) but it was with great anticipation that my friends and I started apartment hunting in the spring of 1974. Four of us - three who had gone to Preble High School together in Green Bay and our new BFF from the dorms - signed a lease on the first floor of a house on Randall Court. That's right! We were half a block from the stadium and an easy walk into campus. It had two bedrooms - one was actually a converted porch - so we shared, two to a room, just like in the dorms. But oh, it was so much better! We had our own kitchen and living room and a backyard. And a bathroom for just the four of us. Even if the drain clogged on a regular basis and the landlords were a bit slow in responding to our maintenance requests, even if the noises from the upstairs tenants were a bit disturbing in the night, we loved the space and the freedom of our own place. The next year we recruited a couple more friends and rented the whole house. I moved upstairs with two friends from the dorm - my freshman roommate and the girl next door. Such luxury! We each had our own bedrooms. Ok - the kitchen was a cantilevered, converted porch barely hanging on, but we loved the space and the location and the backyard with a mulberry bush! But wait - it got even better. My senior year several of us left Randall Court and rented a house on Lake Mendota. Now that was living! It was a bit further out but it was worth it: beautiful lake views, swimming off our own dock, dreaming of ice skating in the winter. Unfortunately, I was only there first semester. I graduated in December of 1976 and moved to Indianapolis in February of 1977 to work for Eli Lilly and Co. I never got to ice-skate out the back door but I still have fond memories of our house on the lakeshore.
Jacquie (Jarstad) Sewell ’76
Paul and I lived in an apartment on West Main Street 2 or 3 doors up from the Echo Tap for the 1977-78 year. One day the refrigerator developed a short of some kind through the freezer housing. We came home to find a huge puddle on the floor and sizzling, previously frozen, pork chops on the aluminum freezer. Paul, a Mechanical Engineer, pulled the plug and then decided to enjoy the fried pork chops for an early dinner.
Jim Meister ’78
Fernandina Beach, FL
933 W Johnson (now torn down) has three great features: "the beach" which was a railing-less porch roof that overlooked Johnson. great place for a quick between class tan AND a great place to watch the late 1960s era riots!.the house had a family of bats in the attic. when it got "bad" one a housemate would attack the bats with his tennis racket. always successful. my "room" (the "gateway" to the beach) housed four guys in one very small room. the fourth and final bed was only put in place (it was a rollaway folding bed) when the fourth and final guy got into the room as, once in place, the exit door to the bathroom could not be reached (N.B. fire code not a thought). so timing those matters was critical to a good night's sleep 921 N Lake Street (this looks exactly the same on the exterior) The sidewalk in front of the building was the perimeter line for the Wis National Guard during the late 1960s riots. needed to step through their shoulder to shoulder line to get to class. Memorable! My room here had a large outside deck (still visible) overlooking Lake Mendota. private cool spot to hang out. A notable feature included an "honor system" vending machine that only dispensed bottled beer. each month a clean sheet was attached to the machine and residents marked on it each beer taken and then settled their amount due at month end. always seemed to work out ok as the "treasurer" never complained of being short.
Bill Rauwerink ’72
West Bloomfield, MI
So, 2 of my friends and I found a 3 bedroom apt on Mills Street. It was downstairs, and 3 girls lived in the upstairs apt. Unfortunately, there was only ONE thermostat, which was upstairs. There was one bathroom downstairs, with only a bathtub. No Shower! So, we hooked up a hose with a spout that we held over our head. Maintenance was virtually nonexistent promptly answered the phone, but either didn't come or didn't fix any problems. We all signed a 12-month lease-to each save $5/month on rent-$70 each month, per person, in 1969-70. We then found out we weren't allowed to sublet it out the summer after we graduated, and would be stuck each having to pay 3 mos rent. So in the true UW tradition of standing up to authority, we decided to get evicted in May, incorrectly believing that we wouldn't be responsible for any rent after that happened. After the landlord changed the locks, we had to beg to get back in our apt. Ah, the good old days!!!
Jerry Silver '70
I have 2 experiences living off campus. 1971-2 I lived on Jefferson street with 3 other guys. It was close to the Engineering campus. Remembering going to the donut shop around midnight to get fresh donuts. My last semester (Fall 72) was on the 3rd floor of a home on Regent St. Very nice couple rented out rooms to several people. Since I only needed 1 semester of housing (hard to find any place that didn’t want a full year commitment). Kitchen and a social area in the basement. Was a very nice finish to my college career.
Jim Manor ’72
It was the fall of 1973 and I was supposed to be married, January 1974. To save money and be ready for married life, my fiance and I bought a 10' by 40' mobile home located on the south side of Madison. The only problem was that single men under the age of 30 couldn't live in the mobile home park. So after a week of riding my Honda 175 motorcycle to and from Milwaukee every day for classes, I convinced my roommates from the previous year to let me live in the attic room above their second-floor apartment in an off-campus house (I used their one bathroom since there wasn't one in the attic). Things were OK until late November, early December when the temperatures dropped well below freezing at night. There was no electricity in the attic room except for a single overhead bulb. Since I wasn't paying any rent and the landlord didn't know I was there, I couldn't expect much so every night, I would put on extra sweats and crawl into my sleeping bag when I got back from studying at the library or engineering building. When I woke up in the morning there was always frost on the inside of the window. I would grab my clothes and rush downstairs to take my turn in the bathroom to get dressed and ready for another day of classes. Needless to say, I was happy to move into our mobile home with my bride of 44 years in January 1974.
Wally Saeger, ’75
The most “interesting” experience was living at a house located at 141 East Gorham Street (the block with the hill) in an upstairs apartment with four others (3 men; two women). To save money, I got the most interesting room, in several particulars: (1) it could only be reached by going through one of the other bedrooms – of one of the women; and (2) since it was at the front of the house overlooking East Gorham, I always knew before getting up whether it had snowed that night, given the noise of cars spinning their wheels trying to get up the hill. Unpleasant at 6 am, for sure. The room was very cheap, which was good. But it got inconvenient when my woman-next-door roommate had overnight company from her boyfriend. After a while, I neither knocked not looked while passing through her room, and she didn’t seem to mind –at least most of the time. We were four law students and one undergrad and got along pretty well.
Larry Bechler JD’77
In 1970 was a 20-year-old student living in a co-op at 1022 W Johnson St in a house only 2.5 blocks from Sterling Hall. When the bomb went off it shattered the glass in both my windows, leaving glass all over my bed. I’d spent the night at my parents’ home in Evansville, but as my dad was a Cap Times copy editor, we were leaving for Madison before 4am and we heard the distant thud of the bomb. Dad didn’t have a radio in his car, so we only learned what had happened when reached Regent & Park with the police everywhere. We went downtown, where the newsrooms were already in news-gathering mode, and more reporters were streaming in. A shocking day and I still reflect on it.
Marge Sumner ’72
Way back in January 1973, I moved from Milwaukee (N. 45h St.) to an efficiency apartment on the first floor of the cute red brick building next to the Extension Building on Fitch Court. I discovered that a number of librarians had rented in the same building and had then moved to RH&EH Carpenter's other building on old University Avenue. I was in Madison to get my Master's degree in the School of Library & Information Studies on the 4th Floor of H. C. White Hall. I also had a job in the Memorial Library, so this location was most convenient for both class and work. In January 1974, I married my husband Stephen Arnold at St. Paul's Catholic Church. Our family and friends from, WI, IL, MI, and NY gathered at the Inn on The Park Motor Inn, where we held our reception. A fine time was had by all!
Barbara Cornell Arnold MA’73
My Sellery hall roommate, Gary Crandall and I, joined two other Sellery Hall men, John St. Peter and Steve Foltz, to live on the first floor of 12 South orchard in 1970. We new juniors at UW removed some old wallpaper and did some painting prior to moving in. We can remember smelling early morning donuts being baked on Regent Street.
Two neat experiences:
Gary had an old Ford Falcon that he shared with the rest of us. In the winter time, we used to have to disconnect the battery and bring it into the apt otherwise the car would not start the next day.
Second, Gary agreed to fix the meals if we all did the cleanup, We chipped in 10 dollars a piece each week for the food and we ate well. It seemed to us cleaner uppers that Gary used every saucepan/dish in the house for our main meal but he was a good cook
All of us stayed in Wisconsin for our careers and most of us are retired now. We get together each fall for a few days on the Madison campus. This year our fall get together will commemorate our first meeting each other 50 years ago at Sellery Hall.
Dave Olson ’72
Does living 5 miles from campus at my parent's house for 2 years in the ‘80s count as off-campus housing? I’m sure things have changed dramatically for those living at home today given technology and ease of mobility to do coursework. Back then it was harder to write papers given you needed your typewriter, harder to collaborate on group projects and harder to be involved with campus activities. But I definitely made up for it later. And no college debt!
Linda Kingsley ’84
I spent my Junior year (1978-79) living in what was then called The Round House at 626 Langdon Street. It was a hi-end apartment building occupied by reputable college students. There were one and two bedroom as well as studio apartments in this structure. Three of us rented a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment for the school year. Yes, we were often cramped, and it took a lot of give-and-take on all of our parts. Getting to anywhere on time was a challenge with the limited facilities, yet we always seemed to make it with a smile. Getting a good night's sleep was also a difficult task because of the different schedules we encountered, but young U.W. Badgers evidently don't require much sleep. I totally enjoyed the building's central location, the sunroof with its amazing view of the lake and the many friendships gained! Indeed it was a GREAT experience then and to this day it holds some of my GREATEST memories!
Pam Liegel ’80
Spring Green, WI
My four years at Wisconsin occupy some of my greatest memories of my life. I certainly remember some great classroom experiences, like listening to Professor Grasskamp predict the perils of Fannie Mae; or learning statistics by counting the number of cow legs in a pasture; or being assigned seats in Philosophy class next to the hottest guy (if I could just remember his name… Steve B something from Chicago – he had a Harley!); or just simply sitting on the Terrace drinking cheap beer out of a paper cup. But some of the wildest memories of by time at Wisconsin revolve around where I lived.
My Dad was a bit nervous about me moving out on my own for the first time so he made me live in the all-girls dorm just off Bascom Hill. I had the corner room on the 11th floor with a perfect view of the State Capital, State Street, and Memorial Union. I remember watching the band making its way to games from the Humanities building or watching the movie, Back to School being filmed right outside my door. My roommate and I were a bit out of sync. She had a plaid bedspread and wooden ducks on the wall. I had U2 posters and mismatched sheets.
As soon as I could, I rebelled against my Dad’s rules. I found new roommates – all guys! And I moved into the 2nd-floor apartment of the old house right behind Brat House. There was a guitar store on the first floor. I am not sure they ever sold anything, but there were always lots of very relaxed folks hanging on our stoop. They liked to smoke funny stuff! Thursday nights was Quarter Ponies, which meant at about 2 am the Brat House bartenders would empty trash cans full of empty mini beer bottles into the metal trash can just below my window. I eventually got used to it, but that first night scared me to tears!
My roommates were hardcore bicycle racers and they were good! This came with a lot of perks. Each summer weekend, their team would crash at our apartment and we did not have air conditioning. I remember many Saturday mornings getting up early to go to work, only to find about ten very buff, surfer dude type guys sleeping on our couches and floors wearing only their tighty whities! Their trainer would sometimes come by and rub them all down with olive oil after a big road race. The apartment smelled like bad Italian food and I did learn quickly to hide my Daisy razor! But otherwise, it was outstanding.
One of my roommates was nicknamed HB (I won’t tell you why!). He was a super sweet, incredibly smart guy who just was kind to everybody. Last I heard he was working on cloning sheep in Georgia. Anyway, he and our other roommate, Bob, befriended this girl they met at the grocery store one day. Apparently, she had lost her lease and had nowhere to go. She had just come to the US from Sweden and did not seem to have any friends. My girlfriends were pretty skeptical about HB and Bob’s motives. Ma (that was her name) was about 6’2, totally athletic, gorgeous girl, with very long, white blond hair. She moved in and life was great (although I became very aware of how short my 5-foot stature really is!) I thought she was delightful and I certainly liked the help with the rent. But HB and Bob quickly soured on the deal. Apparently, Ma had a habit of coming home after class to relax for the evening. To do this, she would make a drink, take off all of her clothes and watch TV naked while sitting on the couch. Now, I never saw this, but it really made these two super cool dudes super uncomfortable! They begged me to get rid of her, but there was no way I was getting in the middle of this! I will admit though… I did pitch the throw pillows and never took a nap on that couch again!
I think of all of these amazing UW characters with such love and joy all of the time! I definitely don’t miss the roaches, the mice, the anorexic roommate who would hide my food, the shower tub with no floor so you had to stand in a bucket, or the bedroom I once had where there were only six inches between my window and the brick wall next door! But I do miss riding on the back of Steve’s Harley; cheering on HB and the guys racing around the Capital; yelling at Bob for stealing my repair kit off my bike after I crashed 30 miles out of Madison and had to hitchhike home; playing hacky sack with Dan, Jason, Julie and Guy and all the others at our spider-infested house off Mifflin Street; shooting pool with Joe, the new age rapper, and his awesome girlfriend Wendy at the Pub instead of studying for the real estate class… They each had such an impact on my life and my outlook. I hope they all landed into great lives!
Amy Barry ’89
In the late 70's I was an engineering student and my grad school roommate and I rented a duplex two blocks from Camp Randle. Each had our own bedroom. Easy walking distance to class and on Saturdays in the fall we sold parking places on the lawn for football goers. Wonderful place
Anne Tivin ’81
North Kingstown, RI
The "Frances Street Foxes" had a 30-year reunion in Madison in 2010. Six women, after spending 2 years in Sellery Hall on the 5th floor "Gay House" rented a place on Frances street which still stands but with some renovations. It is now across from the Fluno Center. Used to be across from Bob and Gene's. We had raucous parties with several people sleeping in the living room after the night's shenanigans. It had 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms so we had it pretty good. There were 3 porches for people watching and heckling. We rented out the parking space behind the house to a guy who lived in his car. He delivered pizza for a "living" and we often benefited from mistaken orders! My small bedroom with a porch on the second floor had a thin-walled closet that was so close to being outside that in the winter my clothes froze to the back wall. There were mice. The basement looked like a setting for a horror movie. No one went down there alone. We played albums of show tunes from musicals. Living large on Frances Street. Sheila Lapping, Debi Zuckerman, Nancy Gollin, Liz Reinhold, Kathy Sullivan and Mary Pence (1980) pictured on the stairs at Frances Street
Mary Pence ’80
Hood River, OR
In the summer of 1978, I was a new transfer student and moved into a sublet apartment on the second floor of a house. I knew Madison could get hot and humid and the house didn't have air conditioning. The first night I opened my one window as wide as I could and hoped for a breeze before falling asleep. What I didn't know was that my window faced towards the Henry Villas Zoo. Nothing like getting awoken my first morning in Madison by the roar of a male lion greeting the dawn!
Krista Clumpner ’80, MA’81
Hello, Wisconsin Alumni Association!
As a graduate of UW-Madison who experienced the joys of off-campus housing, I felt compelled to reply with my personal tale.
As a Madison resident (graduate of Robert M. LaFollette High School on Madison's east side), I was a bit lax in submitting my request for on-campus housing. As a result of my late application, I was assigned a temporary room at a short-course dormitory (Humphrey Hall) on the UW-Madison lakeshore.
Back in those days (I started college in the fall of 1982), temporary housing offered you the option of (A) waiting for UW-Madison to relocate you to a permanent dorm room, or (B) canceling your contract with UW housing and finding your own place. Having become close friends with my roommate, we decided on Option B, and eventually found a four-room apartment on the third floor of 525 W. Mifflin St. (yes, the same block as the Mifflin Street Block Party). We recruited two other residents of Humphrey Hall to occupy the other rooms and moved into our apartment Halloween weekend, 1982 (good timing!).
At the time, rent of $425.00 per month (yes, for the entire apartment) seemed a bit steep, but we were excited to have our own place separate from the dorms and within close proximity of the campus. The apartment certainly wasn't lavish: blood-red exterior paint, ankle-high brown shag carpeting and a pronounced swale in the kitchen linoleum (affectionately referred to as "the bass pond" when it would fill with water/beer during keg parties) were the most distinguishing features. Further, during said keg parties, the living room floor would flex in trampoline-like fashion under the weight of too many dancers and party revelers. Fortunately, the floor never gave-way, and the second-floor apartment dwellers were usually at our parties.
Alas, the Mifflin Street apartment was sold in 1984, the rent was raised to financially non-viable heights, and we relocated to another off-campus gem at 106 N. Blount St. (near The Caribou bar). Despite the infestation of mice, a living room with a pronounced slope toward the street, and several incidents of poltergeist activity (seriously), my original Humphrey Hall roommate and I were able to focus enough on our studies and graduate from UW-Madison in 1986.
Though far from extravagant, my off-campus housing experience was largely positive and taught me a number of invaluable life lessons: independence, financial responsibility, resourcefulness and poltergeist survival, to name a few. More than 30 years after graduating, I look back fondly on this experience and have always appreciated the flexibility UW-Madison offered in opting out of my housing contract and finding our wonderful off-campus apartments.
Thank you, and ON, WISCONSIN!
Tom Innis ’86
Breezy Point, MN
I lived in some places that definitely had character during my undergraduate years in the early 2000s. Among the most memorable was a first-floor flat on Chandler St that I shared with 2 roommates, which seemed to have been last renovated sometime during the 1950s. Among other features, it included a steeply sloped kitchen floor, a shower knob that required a hammer to operate, a trash can that was probably not lawfully obtained from a fast food restaurant, and a hallway that had been walled off on each end and converted into a bedroom. On one particularly windy night, my roommates and I were studying in the living room and heard a tremendous crash…a window (casing and all) had fallen out and onto the floor of the front room. We reported it to the property manager, but no one ever came to fix it, so there it sat for the remainder of my junior year. Needless to say, we didn’t stick around to find out what happened to it the following year.
Liz Krznarich ’05, MA’13