The Tenney building on the Capitol Square is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, completed in 1930, is a stunning example of Art Deco design and has become a landmark in the Madison skyline. 

 

The Tenney building on the Capitol Square is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, completed in 1930, is a stunning example of Art Deco design and has become a landmark in the Madison skyline. 

 “The Tenney building… is owned, planned, financed and built by Madison men.” 

Wisconsin State Journal – February 15, 1931 

The building was made possible by members of Madison’s prominent Tenney family and was designed by renowned architects Law, Law & Potter, who were the most prolific architects in Madison between 1920 and 1940.  Construction began in 1929 and took place in two parts to accommodate tenants in the existing three-story structure. The back half of the building was completed first, in late 1929, with all tenants moving in to the new building before the old structure was demolished and construction on the second portion began. Upon its completion in 1930, the building was 80% occupied, and it was the largest single-business enterprise in the history of the city (at the time). Additionally, it was a large step in life safety as it was Madison’s first “fire-proof” structure, built with a frame made entirely out of steel. 

“It is a splendid example of modern architecture, and artistically combines beauty and utility…Located on the Capitol Square, it presents an outstanding background to the imposing statehouse. Real estate men and bankers agree that it adds to the value of every other piece of property on the square.” 

Wisconsin State Journal – February 15, 1931 

The building is a beautiful example of Art Deco design, which can be found on the exterior of the building as well as inside the extravagant lobby. On the outside, note the bands of geometric ornaments in stone and terra cotta as well as the bronze lighting fixtures along the top of the building. On the interior, the elevator lobby is a stunning display of boldly colored marble floors, bronze accents and Art Deco influence. While the building has undergone minor renovations in the years since it was built, much of the original design and beauty has remained.  

The Tenney building is now the oldest building on the block that it shares with the modern, glass US Bank building. Urban Land Interests purchased the building in 2008 and has worked to continue the modernization and preservation of the historical building. Exterior lights and the lobby have been changed to match the original Art Deco design, and the building elevators and other systems have been updated. Future plans include extensive restoration of the exterior stonework and renovation of shared common corridors to better showcase the style of the building. Urban Land Interests is invested in maintaining this historic property to ensure that it continues as a beautiful tribute to Madison’s history for many years to come. 

Read the feature in the Wisconsin State Journal here!