Garver Feed Mill story by Pat Arndorfer

Pat Arndorfer narrates a story about living on the east side of Madison in the Olbrich neighborhood, and her recollections of the Garver Feed Mill building being a near-empty structure in the 1990s. She recalls a neighborhood discussion about future plans for the building that took place at Olbrich Gardens in the late 1990s.

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    Laura Damon-Moore: Good morning, my name is Laura Damon-Moore. I'm here at the Garver Feed Mill re-opening event on November 2nd, 2019.I have a narrator here who will introduce herself and tell us about her relationship to the Garver building and the east side neighborhood I believe. Will you introduce yourself please?

    Pat Arndorfer: My name is Pat Arndorfer. It's A-r-n-d-o-r-f-e-r.

    Laura Damon-Moore: Wonderful, thank you. So Pat, tell us about your relationship to this area, this building, whatever you'd like to share today.

    Pat Arndorfer: Yeah, so I bought my first house in the Olbrich neighborhood. I lived four houses up from Olbrich Gardens, the hockey rink kind of area there. My house was built in 1925, right about the time that the sugar beet factory was kind of switching over to the feed mill. I bought the house in '92. The feed mill, apparently, was still going on, I learned that today that '97 is when it was closed up. The first five years I lived in my house the feed mill was here. I just remember now, I remember it being open when I lived here. It was always kind of an eyesore. I only lived there until 2000. Just kind of based on the dates I'm hearing today about when things happened, but my memory is, is that I went to probably the first community meeting at Olbrich Gardens on what the plans were for this building.

    Laura Damon-Moore: Oh, wow!

    Pat Arndorfer: It was an invitation, I think to the neighborhood residents. So I thought oh, I'm just going to go over and see what they're going to tell us, you know? I think at that time Olbrich was thinking about taking over the building and doing something with it, with their gardens, their part of their business, their community property. I was all excited because I didn't think it was a very nice looking building but I love old buildings and I could see that it had a lot of potential. I don't remember a lot of details of the meeting. But I know I was there and I know I got all excited about it. Then nothing happened. And then I moved away. I moved away to Alaska, actually, in 2000. I wasn't here for the big fire because they talked about the fire in 2001 or [200]2 and I thought I would have remembered that because fire is actually pretty traumatic for me to just witness.

    Anyways, I missed the fire. But I remember the graffiti on the outside and I rode my bike by many times on the bike path. In the more recent years I was one of the many thousands of people who came through here and picked up our leaf mulch in the spring. I still had that connection. I would drive up and say "oh God," and every year the building was more and more dilapidated, coming in to do my mulch thing. To be here in this building today with how they have restored it so magnificently, it's just—it really makes me excited to see that they've finally, finally after twenty-some years, they finally got around to doing something with it. They've just created a masterpiece here. It's just really fun to know that I was kind of here at the beginning of the ideas and then I've been able to see it come to fruition.

    Laura Damon-Moore: That's lovely. Anything else you'd like to add today? Any particular stories?

    Pat Arndorfer: No, I think that's about it. Those are my memories and I'm just really happy that I have some small part in the history of this.

    Laura Damon-Moore: Absolutely. Where did the neighborhood meeting take place? Was it in the building?

    Pat Arndorfer: It was in Olbrich Gardens.

    Laura Damon-Moore: Oh, Olbrich Gardens, got it. Oh, neat.

    Pat Arndorfer: It must have been the community room in the back where they have all of the events.

    Laura Damon-Moore: Got'cha.

    Pat Arndorfer: And I think there was a pretty good turnout. Those memories are a little bit vague. It was kind of fun to be there in the beginning.

    Laura Damon-Moore: Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh that's great. Well thank you so much for sharing that, yeah.

    Pat Arndorfer: Happy to.

    Laura Damon-Moore: What a thrill to be back here. Wonderful. Thank you.