Municipal Building story by Lillian Sizemore

Lillian Sizemore recounts her memories of the Municipal Building, particularly the women's restroom in the corner of the second floor, which featured white carrara marble.

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    Interviewer: Well, my name is Sarah White and I’m collecting interviews for the Living History Project of people at the Madison Municipal Building grand opening. And with me is Lillian Sizemore, who wants to talk about bathrooms.

    Narrator: I do! Well, I came to the art show—was it 2016 already? Yeah, I came to the big art show that was here in 2016 and wandered around the whole building and I had never been in the Municipal Building before and I love old buildings, and I love old—you know. What was it? From the ‘30s I guess it was built.

    I: The building opened in 1929.

    N: Yeah. ‘29. Yeah. So. So, I’m a mosaic artist and I have an affinity for the masons and for terrazzo workers and for stone and tile. That’s my expertise. And so these bathrooms, which were kind of— some of them were a little bit tucked around to the sides and kind of, you had to kind of go find them. And there were men and women bathrooms but I didn’t see the men’s bathroom. Well, actually I did walk into a men’s bathroom.

    But the women’s bathroom that I remember, all the stalls were divided by huge slabs of carrara marble. Right? Beautiful, white with the gray veining, which is typical of carrara marble, which would have been mined in Carrara, Italy. You know, it’s not something that you can find in the United States. So here’s a municipal building in Wisconsin that’s importing beautiful slabs of marble for the women’s bathrooms to divide the stalls. And then the floors were all these like beautiful hexagon porcelain tiles, um, that were laid and, you know, that stuff lasts forev[er].

    And so I was like, oh my god, I hope they don’t tear out those bathrooms. And I wonder what they did. Because I haven’t seen it yet. So. That’s what I remember. And I was wishing, oh my god, I hope I can get some of that carrara marble! And, of course, I didn’t come and scavenge, you know. That would’ve been fun. To scavenge what they threw away here! (laughs) Or, uh, hopefully that got, the stuff got recycled or I don’t know.

    I: Well come back and talk to us after you check out the bathrooms!

    N: Yeah, I will.

    I: Okay! Give us a thumbs up or thumbs down on the renovation.

    N: I’m, I’m nervous now! (laughs)

    I: I haven’t seen them either. I hope you’re right. I hope they preserved it.

    N: Thank you for letting me tell my memory.