Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

1 W WILSON ST

Architecture and History Inventory
1 W WILSON ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:State Office Building
Other Name:State of Wisconsin Office Building
Contributing:
Reference Number:28434
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):1 W WILSON ST
County:Dane
City:Madison
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1929
Additions: 1956 1938
Survey Date:1974
Historic Use:government office/other
Architectural Style:Art Deco
Structural System:
Wall Material:Stone - Unspecified
Architect:ARTHUR PEABODY
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: State Office Building
National Register Listing Date:1/28/1982
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation.

BUILDING WAS ERECTED IN THREE STAGES: THE NORTH WING WAS FINISHED IN 1931, THE CENTER SECTION IN 1939 AND THE SOUTH WING WAS COMPLETED IN 1959; THIS CONTRACT WAS LET IN 1956. INITIAL CONSTRUCTION COST WAS $850,000, CENTRAL SECTION WAS $1,832,000 AND THE SOUTH WING APPROXIMATELY $3.5 MILLION.

A chunk of Gotham in downtown Madison, the State Office Building looks more massive than it actually is, thanks to its cubic form, gray granite walls, and soaring columns of windows, alternating with slender stone pilasters. The chunky set-backs and aggressive verticality are hallmarks of Art Deco design. So are the classical motifs, abstracted into geometric forms; notice the stylized torches belching terracotta flames atop the tall pilasters and the stylized shields and acanthus leaves studding the terracotta window spandrels. The two-story entrance, facing Wilson Street, makes for an especially impressive view: colossal Composite columns with fluted shafts frame the bronze doorway, cast with heavy detail and lighted by bronze lamps.

Inside, a rich palette of colored marble clads the two-story lobby. Terracotta fans, shells, and floral motifs border the coffered ceiling and paneled side walls, and a chevron pattern edges the hallways. The floor is patterned terrazzo: marble chips set in mortar, then polished.
The state architect designed the building in 1929. Construction took place in three stages, the first in 1930, but the second not for another eight years, when funding from the Public Works Administration enabled the financially strapped state to add the eleven-story tower and adjoining section of the east wing; the PWA, a New Deal agency, hired unemployed artists and construction workers for building projects all over the country. The building’s west wing was completed in 1956.
Bibliographic References:"MOVE TO COMPLETE STATE OFFICE BUILDING" CAPITOL TIMES 5/2/34 P. 4. THE WISCONSIN TAXPAYER, 7/15/1938 "HISTORY OF STATE OFFICE BUILDING". LUCILLE BYSTROM "STATE OFFICE BUILDING WING, WELL UNDERWAY..." WISCONSIN STATE EMPLOYEE 10/1957. "STATE TO USE NEW WING AUG. 1" WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL 6/14/59. "DIGEST OF THE LAWS RELATING TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PRESENT WISCONSIN STATE CAPITOL AND THE STATE OFFICE BUILDING" PREPARED BY THE LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE LIBRARY, 8/1923, 7/1942, 10/1943, AND 10/1945. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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