Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A dollar will buy the house where the UW once taught young women to be good wives and mothers

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A mind-boggling testament to decades of social change is embodied in the fact that in 1940 the University of Wisconsin-Madison built this lovely brick and stone house on campus to help teach young women ("girls" then) to be good wives and mothers, and that the School of Human Ecology (formerly the Department of Home Economics) is now planning to demolish it as part of an expansion project -- unless they can find someone to buy it for $1 and cart it away. It has long since ceased to serve its original purpose, but during the Forties, Fifties and early Sixties 1430 Linden Drive was ground zero for what Betty Friedan would later call the feminine mystique.

It was called the Home Management House then (which was misidentified as the Practice Cottage in Channel 15's story about the demise of the building.) The Practice Cottage was an earlier facility, a smaller wood frame house on the other side of Linden Drive. This Forties state-of-the-art kitchen in the Home Management House was the successor to an earlier, turn-of-the century version in the Practice Cottage. Today it's a closet.
Construction on the house began in 1940 and it was completed in June 1941 at a cost of $33,900. The house is roughly 57 feet wide by 31 feet deep.

Students and faculty once used the house as a home economics practice house, where up to eight students lived for two weeks at a time during their senior year. This period enhanced classroom education and provided hands-on learning in the areas of budgeting and time and household management.

In the mid-1960s the home - designed with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an instructor's suite and a sun porch - was converted for office use. The home retains, however, much of its original character. A former living room, complete with a long table and wood-burning fireplace, was converted to a conference room.
If you want to see more pictures of the Home Management House and the Practice Cottage in action, go to the picture archive at Home Economics to Human Ecology: A Centennial History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It's filled with time capsule moments like this.

Oh, and if you're interested in the house, which is leaving its site "dead or alive" by next February -- a mover estimates it will cost at least $135,000 to move it 10 blocks. Then there's the cost of moving utility lines along the route, buying a lot, putting in a foundation, mold and asbestos remediation... but you'll be acquiring a lot of history and a pretty nice house.

2 comments:

Rich said...

This house would look great on my 1 acre lot on the waterfront in coastal Maine.

Too bad they don't teach that course anymore.

greenbushboy said...

The UW should try and sell this house brick by brick to anyone who wants a piece of campus history. If I still lived in Madison, I would purchase a couple just in case a new Rennebohms ever opened up on State Street.