The Livingston Inn | Madison, Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast

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.

Continue reading

Summer Time Fun

Last week I really enjoyed a supplement to our weekly newspaper, The Isthmus, called “Summer Times”.  It reminded me of all the wonderful things Madison has to offer this time of year.  Certainly we have our time-honored events like Concerts on the Square, Opera in the Park, Art Fair on the Square, and Paddle and Portage.  But The Isthmus supplement was well done because it also featured things to do and see that are less familiar, either because they typically attract a smaller crowd or perhaps still have not been discovered by most residents and visitors.  Of those, the following are ones I would recommend checking out for summer 2015: Continue reading

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

Love is in the Air

After years of raising kids and taking family vacations, Peggy and I recently were able to get away and celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  We spent some time on the west coast, and the weather, attractions, restaurants, and accommodations were wonderful.  Despite all that, though, the time away heightened our appreciation of Madison.  It’s not a sense of superiority, but more an awareness of all this small city in the Upper Midwest can offer both residents and visitors.

So, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re presenting the many things we love about Madison. Continue reading

Discover The Other Place With Forward Theater

The-Other-Place-Graphic-WebWhat do a yellow bikini and walking a mile in someone’s shoes have in common?  I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out next week.  The second play in Forward Theater’s 2014-15 season, The Other Place, debuts Thursday, January 15, and runs through February 1.  The play centers on Juliana Smithton, a drug-company scientist, and her movement between a career as a confident, professional woman and a fragile place at the core of what it means to be human.  The Other Place ran successfully both on  and off Broadway, and I am looking forward to experiencing it through the lens of our outstanding local theater company, Forward Theater. Continue reading

Fair Trade Holiday Festival

IMG_5076Tired of all the news about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and everything in between this holiday season?  If so, we highly recommend you re-vitalize your holiday shopping with Madison’s 18th annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival this Saturday, December 6, 2014, from 9-4, at the Monona Terrace Convention Center on Madison’s famous isthmus, located just a few blocks off the Capitol Square. Continue reading

Turn On Johnson: Artisans Abound

Believe it or not, the Johnson Street re-construction in our neighborhood is nearly complete. The anticipated end date is mid-November. For those of us living in the area, it will be very welcome and somewhat hard to believe. We are excited about how the project will restore and improve one of our most important neighborhood streets. Continue reading

Become Unhinged With Forward Theater

Last week, The Livingston Inn had the honor of hosting part of Feast Forward, an annual city-wide fundraiser benefiting Forward Theater Company. The theme for this year’s event was “Feed Me a Story”, aptly describing the excellent food and wonderful people who came together at our inn. “Feed Me a Story”, though, was inspired by Out of the Fire: Banned Books Monologue Festival coming up this season at Forward Theater. Feast Forward, therefore, was a celebration of “our freedom to consume stories of all sorts in delicious ways!” Continue reading

It’s Not Easy Being Green

img_0137-2When my wife and I opened The Livingston Inn a little over three years ago, we knew we wanted to do it sustainably and use organic and natural products whenever possible. But it was hard to see what a “green” business might look like in the midst of bringing a 160-year-old home back to life. Certainly, we could say we would commit to sound environmental practices. But how would we take action on that commitment day-to-day?

Continue reading

Turn on Johnson: Shop Til You Drop

The Turn on Johnson website has a countdown.  It’s the number of days until the Johnson Street construction is finished.  As I write this blog, the countdown says 103 days.  I’m sure many of the neighbors, commuters, and area businesses will be grateful when that number approaches zero.

At the same time, our neighborhood campaign asking residents and visitors to “turn on” Johnson Street during construction and patronize our small business community entreats us not to be controlled by the future.  Instead, we should embrace the present.

Continue reading