Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Old Spring Hotel
Erected 1972 by Madison Landmarks Commission. (Marker Number 16.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Notable Buildings. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin, Madison Landmarks Commission series list.
Location. 43° 2.998′ N, 89° 26.239′ W. Marker is in Madison, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is at the intersection of Nakoma Road and Monroe Street, on the right when traveling south on Nakoma Road. The marker is located on a stone wall. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3706 Nakoma Road, Madison WI 53711, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other Old Spring Tavern (here, next to this marker); Plough Inn (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Plough Inn (approx. ¼ mile away); Glenwood Children's Park (approx. ¼ mile away); Nakoma (approx. 0.3 miles away); Jacobs House I (approx. 0.6 miles away); John M. Olin (approx. 0.7 miles away); University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Madison.
Regarding Old Spring Hotel. The Spring Tavern is the oldest building in Nakoma and one of the oldest in Madison. It was built by Charles Morgan, a native of Connecticut who came to the western frontier to improve his health. From 1860 to 1895, the Gorham family used the building as an inn, serving travelers journeying between Milwaukee and Platteville on the historic road of which Nakoma Road is now a part. The Tavern sits on a large, steeply sloping lot. Its most visible facade, the one with the two-story veranda added in the 1920s, faces east toward Nakoma Road, but the Council Crest side is the original front of the house. This fine example of the Greek Revival style is built of brick made from clay dug from the slope behind the house and fired in a kiln that Morgan erected near the Duck Pond just across Nakoma Road. Typical Greek Revival features include returned eaves,
Source: Madison Landmarks Commission
More about Old Spring Tavern
Old Spring Tavern was a stagecoach stop on the old Madison-Monroe stagecoach road, which led to southwestern Wisconsin’s lead mining area.
The Monroe Road was the first public road designated by the territorial legislature in 1838 and one of only 18 territorial mail routes. The route, which roughly corresponds to the present Highway 69, actually followed American Indian trails as far south as Freeport, Illinois.
The Old Spring Tavern is named for its principal asset, the spring used for watering the horses and oxen of travelers, located behind the tavern. When James W. Gorham acquired the tavern and 60 acres for $9000 in gold, the tavern became known as Gorham’s Tavern and the spring became known as Gorham’s Spring.
Originally the old stage road passed to the northwest of the house in what is now the rear yard. The current Nakoma Road was built later between the house and the spring. The spring is now part of the University Arboretum, a duck pond draining into Lake Wingra.
The building’s original entry now faces the rear of the house at the bottom of a steep slope on
As part of the same restoration work, a stone wall, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was built around the front and sides of the tavern. On completion in 1929, the DAR marked the house with a plaque placed on the stone wall.
The remaining acreage became “Gorham Heights” in the Nakoma subdivision, a planned community developed in the 1910s and '20s. The tavern building itself remained outside of Madison city limits, which ended at the Edgewood campus, until Nakoma was incorporated into Madison.
The Ho Chunk had a village on the ridge behind the tavern and six prehistoric mounds have been found on the property, each containing a skeleton and artifacts.
The building’s architectural materials include reddish-pink brick made from clay on the site, and solid oak beams, probably also from the site. The tavern was originally heated by Franklin stoves and had no fireplaces.
City of Madison Landmarks Commission, Landmarks and Landmark Sites Nomination Form, Jill Marx, Landmark Commission, 1972
Levitan, Stuart D., Madison, The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History, Volume 1, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.
Also see . . . The landmark nomination form for the Old Spring Hotel/Tavern. (Submitted on July 27, 2010, by Diane Booth of Madison, Wisconsin.)
1. Correction to description of photo #5.
The outbuilding to the left in the bottom photo is actually a completely new building, a 2-car garage I designed a number of years ago (don't remember the exact date) to be historically compatible in appearance with the Old Spring Tavern building. The attached one-story (from this side) portion of the Old Spring Tavern building was originally built to be a summer kitchen, then converted to a garage some time prior to WWII. At the same time as the new garage was built, that garage was restored to once again become the kitchen. The restoration project included a new below-ground tunnel connecting the lowest floor of the Old Spring Tavern with the lowest floor of the new garage building.
— Submitted November 28, 2019, by Mark Hinrichs of Madison, Wisconsin.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 22, 2010, by Diane Booth of Madison, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,676 times since then and 64 times this year. Last updated on July 26, 2010, by Diane Booth of Madison, Wisconsin. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 22, 2010, by Diane Booth of Madison, Wisconsin. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.