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Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

John A. Johnson made Madison's Factory District Flourish

The Madison Heritage Series

 
 
John A. Johnson made Madison's Factory District Flourish Marker image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, June 24, 2010
1. John A. Johnson made Madison's Factory District Flourish Marker
Inscription. John A. Johnson made a bold move when he co-founded an agricultural implement company in Madison in 1880. Many civic leaders opposed manufacturing, fearing the workers would lower the city's moral and intellectual tone.

But Johnson proved his critics wrong. As president of Fuller and Johnson Manufacturing Company, he shared profits and decision-making with his employees, and provided them with affordable rental housing. Johnson's prosperous workers and impressive profits demonstrated that factories could be a boon. Johnson started Gisholt Machine Company, which produced machine tools, in 1889. By 1902, a year after his death, Johnson's factories comprised two of Madison's "big three." The third, Northern Electrical Manufacturing Company, was co-founded by an inventor Johnson recruited to Madison, Conrad M. Conradson. The three factories paved the way for Madison's bustling East Side manufacturing district.

(Sidebar):
Norwegian immigrant John A. Johnson succeeded in vocations from newspaper owner to politician to salesman. He assisted many local businesses and was active in the community, helping to establish the future Bethel Lutheran Church, the University of Wisconsin's Scandinavian Studies Department and the Union Army's Scandinavian Regiment.

Johnson's companies located near East Washington
Madison Factory District image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, June 24, 2010
2. Madison Factory District
Avenue and Dickinson Street, along with Northern Electrical Manufacturing Company, which occupied the building in front of you, anchored Madison's early 1900s factory district. The area's East Side location placated West Side factory opponents who feared industrial growth.

Sponsored by the John A. Johnson Foundation and Webcrafters. Madison 150 Years, 1859-2006. (Images: Wisconsin Historical Society)
 
Erected 2006 by City of Madison.
 
Location. 43° 5.181′ N, 89° 21.704′ W. Marker is in Madison, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is at the intersection of Dickinson Street and Wilson Street, on the left when traveling south on Dickinson Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 301 South Dickinson Street, Madison WI 53703, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sixth Ward Public Library (approx. 0.2 miles away); Yahara River Parkway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fuller & Johnson Manufacturing Co. Office Building (approx. mile away); Gisholt Machine Company Manufacturing Complex (approx. mile away); George Soelch Investment House (approx. mile away); Toward Revolution / 1970's Vision
Madison's Factory District image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, June 24, 2010
3. Madison's Factory District
(approx. mile away); Steensland Bridge (approx. mile away); a different marker also named Steensland Bridge (approx. mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Madison.
 
More about this marker. This marker is part of the Madison Heritage Series, Sharing Our Legacy, created for Madison's sesquicentennial.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. These are markers that mention John A. Johnson. The page for the first one includes a photo of the nearby gravestone of his parents, which mentions their hometown of Gisholt.
 
Also see . . .  Movers & Shapers. Article names Johnson as one of the ten most influential people in Madison history. (Submitted on July 12, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.) 
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
Plaque at nearby park named for John A. Johnson image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 11, 2011
4. Plaque at nearby park named for John A. Johnson
John A. Johnson Memorial Park image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 11, 2011
5. John A. Johnson Memorial Park
This park is at the intersection of North Sherman Avenue and Lakewood Boulevard, about a mile north of the marker. The John A. Johnson Memorial Park plaque is in the lower right corner of the photo.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 24, 2010, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 918 times since then and 54 times this year. Last updated on July 11, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 24, 2010, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin.   4, 5. submitted on September 12, 2011, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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