UW-Madison students create an interactive walking map of historic Monona

With the help of Professor William Gartner, cartography undergraduates identified architectural sites significant to Monona’s history


Devin Larsen


Shelly Strom, Marshall Curry


City of Monona, WI, United States
Community Size
8,045 (2018 Census Estimation)
University of Wisconsin - Madison
UniverCity Year
Case Type
Project Stories
EPA Region 5, USA

The City of Monona, which is part of the Greater Madison, Wisconsin, area, has a rich history. First settled by a local Native American tribe, the Ho-Chunk Nation, Monona eventually saw the introduction of settlers and farmers in the 1800s, and incorporated as a village in 1938. After a population boom in the 1950s, Monona is now home to approximately 8,000 people. 

As one of the oldest communities in Dane County, Monona officials began considering how they could represent their cultural and communal history to current residents and tourists. 

The UniverCity Year program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an EPIC-Network member, was created to help local government and community partners with identified sustainability and livability projects. Participating University faculty incorporate community-identified projects into classes, and provide students with on-the-ground experience in support of a more sustainable and livable future for the partnered community. 

During the 2016 to 2017 academic year, the City of Monona was chosen to partner with the UniverCity Year program due to its proximity to the university and for strong support from Mayor Bob Miller. 

Professor Gartner’s students begin exploring Monona’s local history

The UniverCity Year program partnered UW-Madison’s Geography 370: Introduction to Cartography undergraduate course with the City of Monona to identify historically significant architectural sites throughout the city. At the direction of Professor William Gartner, students performed literary and historical research to discern sites that were relevant to Monona’s culture, community, and Native American population. Furthermore, they included identifying farms and houses which harbored significance to the city’s history and growth. 

A walk through Monona’s architectural history 

Thanks to their literary analysis and historical, archival research, students were able to produce a walking map and booklet that displayed “significant historical, cultural, and architectural sites in the city of Monona” (UniverCity Year project final report). Sites were given specialized symbols that allow interested residents and visitors to differentiate sites based on their type of architectural style and site. Students also included time-period photos in the booklet to give trail-goers a look into the past. 

Chosen sites included some of the following: 

  • Tonyawatha Springs Hotel 
  • The 1871-built Town Hall
  • The formerly 600 acre Frank Allis Farm
  • Schroeder, Otto and Louise House

Thanks to Professor Gartner and his students, The City of Monona now has a Walking Map of Historic Monona and an accompanying informational booklet which can help residents learn about the city’s past. Residents and tourists have the opportunity to discover historically significant sites located throughout the city while out on a stroll. 

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

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