Friday, April 07, 2006

Beer, Buildings, and Birthday Cake: Celebrating Central Connections to Madison's Sesquicentennial

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the end of Prohibition and the day the Fauerbach Brewery celebrates its 119th year of brewing.

Tuesday, Peter Fauerbach (pictured on left) presented a history of the Fauerbach Brewery at the monthly meeting of the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin (CHEW). His PowerPoint presentation was accompanied by a generous supply of Fauerbach Amber Lager. Peter Fauerbach didn't attend Central, but his paternal grandfather, Karl Fauerbach, graduated from Madison High School (the school's name until East High School opened in 1922) in 1917, a few years after my paternal grandfather graduated from Madison High School in 1910.

The Fauerbach family is one of Madison's pioneer families, so some of its members will be participating in the Madison Sesquicentennial celebrations. I've tried to find out more about the "old families reunion" that is supposed to occur during this 150th birhday party celebration, because I suspect many of the people participating in this event have ancestors with "Central connections." Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out much about this event. Peter Fauerbach said he didn't know much about either, but he rather suspected the descendants of Madison's first families might all be on exhibit in some room in the Monona Terrace Convention Center on Sunday. I'll let you know if I find them.

The big birthday celebration -- with cake and music and other activities -- is on Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow, you're encouraged to get to know Madison a bit better by participating in a walking tour. The Madison Trust for Historic Preservation will be offering its new Mansion Hill West walking tours tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. The Mansion Hill West area includes Langdon Street, Carroll Street, and other locations in that vicinity west of Wisconsin Avenue. The tours begin in front of the Plaza Tavern on 319 N. Henry Street. More than a few Central alumni remember when the Plaza Bowling Alley was upstairs from the Tavern because they walked down there for gym class.

Today's Wisconsin State Journal has an article about the Mansion Hill West walk, featuring six photographs, but not all of them are available online. Some of the houses in the photographs have Central connections. So too do some other houses in the area, which may or may not be included on the tour, including 422 N. Henry Street, once home to Berton Braley (Class of 1901) and 131 Langdon Street, once home to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice John B. Winslow, whose six children all graduated from Madison High School.

I've also received a tip that some Madison Central High School memorabilia may be on display Sunday at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, but I haven't been able to confirm this. If you're headed Downtown for a piece of cake on Sunday afternoon, look around and see if you can find anything. And perhaps you can also find time before or after this celebration to stop and have a look at the Central arch on Wisconsin Avenue and mourn the loss of a building that once housed a school whose alumni have been part of Madison history for more than 150 years.

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