Municipal Building story by Barbara Tarockoff

Ms. Tarockoff shares her memories of the Municipal Building and how it seems changed since the building's renovation.

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    Interviewer: This is Mary Gandolfo and I'm speaking to Barbara Tarockoff, who is going to be sharing a memory or a story about the Madison Municipal Building. Today is December 8th, 2018.

    Narrator: Well, I would come to this building pretty regularly because I had to go to the post office to get a money order usually every month and so I got to know the regulars at the post office but I also would love to come in the early morning, because that's when I would come here, and look at all the artwork in the big lobby and then I would get my money order and stand at the table that was kind of the counter that was in the middle of the lobby and write out cards or whatever pieces of mail that I had, and I would be inspired by just the atmosphere of the—just the largeness of the lobby and the historical kind of moldings and the—just the sounds and quietness of that space.

    Narrator: And, of course, there's always the historical kind of diorama display from—I think it was LaFollette [High School] I'm trying to remember. And I always imagined what was that period of time like. So I could kind of just lose myself in this lobby and also the nature of the work that I do—I work with, um, people with severe mental illness and I would also come and use the housing resources that were on the first floor.

    Narrator: So I have very fond memories of, of the way the building was constructed. And I was so afraid that this building was going to be torn down that when it was—like the weeks before it was closed, I came with my camera, and I took pictures of it outside, and I took the picture of the little plaque, um, plaque that kind of told the history of the building. So I'm very glad that the building is still here, but I'm very disappointed with the way it's been reconfigured. Uh, it's probably very useful, but it feels very alienating and kind of fragmented, and, and that's kind of a reflection, I think, of how I feel about Madison right now, that it seems less cohesive and more fragmented than ever. So, I'm going to keep an open mind, but right now I'm just not that crazy about it.

    Interviewer: And you took the tour?

    Narrator: I have.

    Interviewer: And how far did you—did you get to see all three floors?

    Narrator: I believe I, I think I went to third floor, I think.

    Interviewer: Um-hm.

    Narrator: Yeah. I saw the court, old courtroom, and then I saw—

    Interviewer: Um-hm.

    Narrator: — the, um, I think the media with the—Bubbler display with a [MUFFLED] media.

    Interviewer: Um-hm.

    Narrator: Is that on the third floor, I think? That was—I mean, I love the vistas, looking out the windows, and I took some pictures out the window of where the future building is going to be with the—Lake Monona in the background and kind of the hole that's being constructed. So we'll see what happens when that addition happens. But, right now, I spend a lot of time in the building across the street. (laughter)

    Interviewer: Um-hm.

    Narrator: And—

    Interviewer: Courthouse?

    Narrator: Yup. And uh, uh, just—so it's nice to be back in this building again. It feels like it's an old friend that's kind of had a facelift. (laughter)

    Interviewer: Do you see any elements of the building that you, that you recall from that time?

    Narrator: Um. Just the, maybe, uh, not really.

    Interviewer: No?

    Narrator: No. No. It was just kind of a grand, old building that just, you know, felt like living history was here, and now I feel like that history has been erased.

    Interviewer: Um.

    Narrator: And I love how clean and white the marble stairs are. Um, the only time I actually was in another part of the building besides the first floor was when I had to go down to the, um, the basement for, uh, to talk with some people down there. And that was, that was disgusting (laughs) back then. And so, I haven't been down there yet, but I imagine it's been an improvement since that part. But the, the windows from the outside are much greener in the framing around the windows and that everything is sparkling clean, and I, I just, besides the outside of the building, I don't really see much that I remember from the old building. So it's kind of, you know, I miss my old friend, kind of. (laughs)

    Interviewer: Um-hm. Yeah. Well, thank you for telling us that.

    Narrator: Yeah.

    Interviewer: Thank you for sharing.

    Narrator: Yeah.