Municipal Building story by Sarah White, Municipal Restored

Ms. White describes an early encounter with the Municipal Building as a shortcut during cold winter months to the back of the Fess Hotel on King Street, where she would meet a young man with whom she was in a relationship. She describes getting married to that young man in front of a judge in the Municipal Building later, and then being involved in public meetings that determined the future of east side Madison landmarks such as Olbrich Gardens and the Garver Feed Mill.

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    Interviewer: Okay. My name is Carmen Niemeyer, and I’m here today in the Madison Municipal Building for the Grand Re-Opening. Today is December 8th, 2018, I’m here with Sarah, Sarah would you introduce yourself please?

    Narrator: My name is Sarah White. I live on Madison’s East Side.

    Interviewer: Okay, thank you, Sarah. Would you mind, please, sharing a story with us or memory of the building?

    Narrator: Well, I was thinking, who has any substantive memories of this building, and then I realized that I did. In about 1980, I think it was, I took a temporary job as a typist for the Dane County Print Shop, which was in the basement of the City [-County] Building, which is across the street there. And um, at the time I was falling in love with a young man who was a chef, and worked at the Fess Hotel, which was over on King Street. It’s now the Great Dane Brewpub.

    So I would come to work in the morning at my typist job, and he would come to work in the morning at his job as a chef, and he would make a sandwich for me, for lunchtime. And so he would bike to work, I would bike to work, and when my break time would come, I would come out of the building over there, come through the Municipal Building out the back, because wintertime, you know, out the back and then it was just a quick hop over to the Fess Hotel from there, go to his bike bag, find my sandwich, (laughs) which would be made out of Fess materials, obviously. And you know, we’d do a little smooching on the back steps of the restaurant there and I’d come back, eat my sandwich, and go back to work.

    Three years later we came to this building to get our wedding license and we came to this building for our marriage with the judge. I don’t remember the name of the judge. At the time the cool thing was to be married by Angela Bartell, because she was the first female judge. And anybody who’s anybody on the east side got married by Angela Bartell. But she wasn’t available when we wanted her, so just some man married us. Who knows who.

    And since then, what has brought me to this building has been attending City Council meetings, Landmark Committee meetings, Planning Council meetings—mostly related to Olbrich Gardens and the development of the land behind, and the Garver Feed Mill, and are we going to preserve the Garver Feed Mill, are we going to let the Garver Feed Mill fall down. I moved to Fair Oaks Avenue in 1993 and almost immediately began attending meetings about what would be the fate of that land that was, you know, where I walked my dog. And I’m pleased to say that the building has been saved, it’s under renovation right now, and will be opening with new businesses in it between January and June of next year.

    So all that coming to meetings and participating in public process, I got what I was looking for. So thank you very much.

    Interviewer: Okay, great, thank you so much. That was a great story.