Private Tours

New to Madison? Planning a family, class or other reunion? Want to show off Madison to out-of-town guests or new or potential hires? Consider scheduling a private historic architecture walking tour with Madison Trust.

Dates: Private tours are conducted within our tour season, May through September.

Reservations: Reservation are required. We ask that you contact us at least two weeks ahead of your preferred tour date so we can make sure a volunteer docent is available.

Tour choices: You may choose from any of the below tours, even if they are not part of our seasonal schedule this year.

Cost: $20.00 each for 1-10 guests, $15.00 each for 11 or more guests. Tickets can be prepaid online or paid on the tour. If you pay on the tour, we only accept cash or check.

Cancellations: To cancel, please contact us at least 24 hours prior to your tour.

Weather: We will be there rain or shine!

What to wear: Dress for the weather in comfortable shoes, as tours require standing and walking for up to 90 minutes.

*Certified service dogs are always welcome. Other pets are not permitted on the tours.


Bascom Hill tour

Learning Matters

Climb the hill to see Old Abe, good luck symbol to generations of UW students. The UW campus is packed with history and architecture galore, from stately brick and sandstone buildings of the 1850s to “the worst building in the history of American universities.” This tour requires strenuous walking uphill.

Length: Approximately 1 1/2 hours

Isthmus Bike Tour

Cycle the East-side

Covering Madison’s near east neighborhoods, highlights of this this two-wheeled tour include revitalized industrial buildings and a Native American effigy mound.

Length: Approximately 2 hours

King Street tour

Where Madison First Happened

Over the years, Madison’s very first street has been home to its first fast-food lunchroom, first high-volume grocery, and Madison’s first teacher. Throw in the Majestic (Madison’s oldest continually operating theater), an Art Deco high-rise, and a Turkish bath; and you’ll realize there’s a lot about this well-visited street you may not know.

Length: Approximately 1 hour

Machinery Row Tour

Threshers, Tractors, Trains & Traveling Salesmen

During the booming 19th century, the east side of Madison was the center of the agricultural implement manufacturing industry in Wisconsin. Railroads converged here and the area became “Machinery Row.” Learn about this history and see factories, commercial buildings, a railroad station, hotels, and a candy company to boot!

Length: Approximately 1½ hours

Mansion Hill east tour

Lifestyles of the Rich and (Once) Famous

Big Bug Hill, Aristocracy Hill, Mansion Hill. Travel through time with us to see the stately sandstone mansions built by Madison’s early elite, including the Old Governor’s Mansion, home to 17 Wisconsin governors. Times change, residents change, but these elegant buildings continue to inspire.

Length: Approximately 1 ¼ hours

Mansion hill west tour

Meet Movers & Shakers

Hidden among the student rentals, you’ll see where Madison’s “big bugs” settled. Time-travel with us from the 1850s to the 1940s to discover a variety of architectural styles and hear stories about the people who built our city—the Jackson, Tenney, Quisling, Mautz, Steensland, and Stevens families.

Length: Approximately 1¼ hours

Maple Bluff Cambridge rd tour

Lakeside Architectural Gems

Explore Cambridge Road’s rich variety of architecture including Prairie, Shingle, Mediterranean Revival, and French Norman Revival styles. Learn about the lives of civic and business leaders who resided here and about the prominent architects who designed these homes. The Village of Maple Bluff never became part of Madison—discover why!

Length: Approximately 1¼ hours

Marquette Bungalows tour

What’s a Jerkinhead?

In just two city blocks, you’ll learn about these unique Craftsman-style bungalows that are modest yet so appealing. (And you’ll be able to identify a jerkinhead!) They weren’t designed by trained architects, but by craftsmen working for the Karrels Building Company between 1924 and 1929.

Length: Approximately 1 hour

Nakoma tour

Sundry Architecture in an Early Suburb

Take a trip with us down historic Nakoma Road and learn about one of Madison’s first suburbs and the prominent residents and architects responsible for its development.

Length: Approximately 1 1/2 hours

Orton Park tour

Distinctive Architecture & Stately Oaks

Now a place of relaxation, recreation, and celebration; Orton Park once served as a final resting place for the dearly departed. Tour one of Madison’s oldest neighborhoods and see homes designed by local architects in distinctive styles as diverse as Italianate, Queen Anne, Greek and Tudor revival, Craftsman, and Prairie.

Length: Approximately 1¼ hours

State Street tour

That Great Street

The artery connecting the State Capitol to the UW campus lies at the beating heart of our city.  So many people, stories, and fascinating structures—it’s hard to fit them into one tour. Overture Center, the Orpheum, Peace Park, flatiron buildings! Come walk with us and feel the excitement.

Length: Approximately 1 ¼ hours

Sunset Hills tour

Mad Mid Mod

These 1950s single-family houses will remind you of cigarettes and cocktails. Platted in 1953, this subdivision of 94 homes on Madison’s west side established deed restrictions that required architect-designed “Modern” homes of high style and high quality. Attached garages only!

Length: Approximately 1 hour

Third Lake Ridge tour

Brewers & Burghers

Wild and woolly Willy Street started as a haven for 19th-century German immigrants. They made their homes, taverns, shops and churches in the unique buildings on Williamson and Jenifer Streets. Learn how this area grew through the decades to become one of Madison’s most distinctive neighborhoods.

Length: Approximately 1 ¼ hours

University Heights tour

Iconic Architects

Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Frank Riley, Claude & Starck, Alvan Small—oh my! This distinguished campus-adjacent neighborhood has been home to some of Madison’s most prominent university faculty. As you explore the area, guess (or ask!) what many of the street names have in common.

Length: Approximately 1¼ hours

UW Ag Campus tour

Birthplace of the Wisconsin Idea

Moo-ve through the historic agricultural campus and learn about the scientific discoveries made within these 19th-century buildings of varied architectural styles. It’s so much more than cows (although you may see some of those too!).

Length: Approximately 1½ hours

Westmorland tour

From Farmland to Frank Lloyd Wright

No repetitious development of cookie-cutter houses in this pioneering west-side suburb. Find the remaining 1860’s sandstone barn that shares the same block as a 1920’s Tudor Revival home. Identify houses ordered from a Sears-Roebuck catalog, houses made entirely of steel, and the house Wright designed as a prototype.

Length: Approximately 1½ hours