The Livingston Inn | Madison, Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast

Beauty in the Eye of the Holder

IMG_0680About three weeks ago, I watched a commentary on CBS Sunday Morning about “death by selfie”. You may have heard this is an actual occurrence in our world today where people come into harm’s way while trying to take the perfect photo of themselves on their mobile phone. The commentary went on to talk about how selfies, and the proliferation of camera phones in general, have caused us to stray from enjoying the moment, most importantly when we travel. The CBS story showed tourists crowding around the Mona Lisa, many with cameras raised high to take a photo, and the reporter wondered how many people simply enjoyed taking in the beauty of the Mona Lisa. This behavior, according to the reporter, relinquishes our recollection of people and places. In essence, we have no memory of the event or special occasion because we spent all our time uploading photos and posting them to social media. We didn’t take time to remember the feeling and emotion of what we saw or did.  Continue reading

Boom Town, Part Two

Madison 1867

Madison 1867

In my last blog, I wrote about big changes happening in Madison over 150 years ago during the “Village Decade”. Among other things, I observed the similarities between those boomtown years and the growth and change we’ve seen in Madison during the past few years. While there are many glorious moments when a city prospers, there are also inevitable growing pains. In part two of this topic, I’ll share some interesting facts and challenges that were part of city life in the 1850s.  Continue reading

Boom Town

“No period in Madison’s history produced so much change so quickly.” “A heady, almost uncontrollable prosperity reigned. The number and scope of new developments were dizzying.” “If Madison did not possess the full style and dignity of a city, people thought it was rapidly moving in that direction.”

Whether you’re a resident or occasional visitor to Madison, these quotes might make you think about the last few years in Madison. Our downtown Capitol Square is full of exciting new restaurants and shops. Johnson Street just west of State Street features new high-rise apartments and hotels squeezed into city blocks where little one and two story residences and businesses once stood. Similarly, East Washington is also booming with high-rise apartments and restaurants, displacing abandoned buildings and car lots. Breese Stephens Field is alive again, and University Avenue is full of beautifully designed new buildings supporting all that’s happening at UW-Madison.  Continue reading

The Year to Honor and Remember

We have many interesting and lively discussions with guests during their stay at The Livingston Inn, whether at the breakfast table or at impromptu moments in the evening. There’s no shortage of perspectives and life experiences, creating a wide spectrum of ideas and opinions.

There are a couple of areas where guests almost universally share the same thoughts and feelings. One of those would be the beliefs and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifty years ago, Dr. King took his honorable place in U.S. history when he started a Civil Rights Movement to ensure equality for all Americans. His vision, courage, and determination were qualities that opened many eyes to injustice and suffering, both during the brief time he was with us and still to this day.  Continue reading

Leitch House History Highlights

As several established Madisonians know, The Livingston Inn is identified more formally as the William T. Leitch House.  This is the name given to the house when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.  William T. Leitch was the original owner of the house, overseeing its construction in the 1850s.  The Livingston Inn was the name given to the house when it became a B&B in the mid-1990s.  In its history, our home was also called the Harman House, named after the long tenure of Gordon and Dolly Harman at 752 East Gorham from the mid-1950s to 1990s.  To this day, some Madisonians still refer to the house as the Harman House.  Continue reading

From Japan to Madison: The Tradition of a Thousand Paper Cranes

IMG_0526[1]For our guests, as well as family and friends who have visited our home, most know we have a number of paper cranes throughout The Livingston Inn. They appear here and there, changing places, all in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles. We always offer to guests the opportunity to adopt one for their journey home at the end of their stay with us. So, some of the cranes have now found new homes. A guest or two has also made one themselves with some paper they had with them (most anything will do), and we have been the fortunate recipients of their gifts.  Continue reading

“Digging” Our UW Badgers

Are you excited that we’re heading into fall with another Top 25 UW Badger team? While you might think I’m talking about football, I’m actually referring to our very talented UW women’s volleyball team. As of this weekend, the Badger football team is ranked 24th in the country, but even more impressive, our volleyball team is ranked 11th. While we love our fall football season around here, the team certainly gets its share of attention on sports media of all types, so we thought we’d highlight all the great things about our Badger volleyball team with a new season upon us.  Continue reading

Anniversary Gifts

Last week we marked our fourth anniversary at The Livingston Inn, also known on the National Register of Historic Places as the William T. Leitch House. On July 29, 2011, we opened our doors with excitement, and a little trepidation, for what would come. Looking back, I can say it’s pretty close to what we envisioned with a couple of small, but wise, adjustments along the way.

Nils Haugen Chair and Ottoman-Before

Nils Haugen Chair and Ottoman-Before

One wonderful gift that was finished and returned to the house in time for our fourth anniversary is a reupholstered chair and ottoman belonging to the third owner of the house, Nils Haugen. His great-granddaughter brought both items to us a few months after we moved in. It wasn’t until this year, though, that we had the opportunity to restore them as signature pieces of furniture at our B&B. The Nils Haugen chair and ottoman look right at home in front of the fireplace in the back parlor.

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In Celebration of Black History Month

For a small city, there’s so much yet for me to learn about Madison.

Three years ago, we set up residence on this side of town at The Livingston Inn, having spent many years on the near west side.  Several neighborhoods in Madison are ideal for walkers – interesting houses, small businesses, beautiful gardens – and the one around our B&B is no different.  On one of my first walks around here, I saw a sign posted on a street corner, something like you’d see on a historic tour.  I approached it to read: Here was Madison’s first African-American neighborhood.

IMG_0462[1] Continue reading

Forty Years Young

madison-trust-logoThis month, my wife and I attended a special birthday celebration.  It was the 40-year celebration of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation.  Since its inception, Madison Trust has served an important function similar to preservation organizations around the country: to save our historic sites and buildings for future generations. Continue reading