August 1, 2018

No, not Austin. The real city that deserves the name Shed Legacy is my own city, Madison, Wisconsin!

On July 29th, you may remember, we saw the crazy fake news on Drudge:



"AUSTIN, TX CONSIDERS NAME CHANGE TO SHED LEGACY."

It was just an accidental ambiguity, of course. The proposed new name for Austin was not Shed Legacy, though it was funny to think about that. The idea was just that Austin should want to shed any names that are the legacy of slavery, such as the name of the city's found Stephen F. Austin. The article Drudge linked to didn't highlight any suggested new name, but I carried on about the silly idea of a town called Shed Legacy. What could possibly have happened to make Shed Legacy the right name for a town?

Lo and behold, I stumble across an article in my local alternative newspaper Isthmus: "Save a shed/Trachte buildings are a piece of Madison history. And they’re disappearing fast." This was published on July 26th, so it's certainly not a response to my musings. But check this out. Madison, Wisconsin has a shed legacy!
San Francisco has its Queen Anne Victorians, Portland its bungalows, Baltimore its rowhouses. And Madison has its Trachte buildings.

“They are uniquely Madison,” says Jim Draeger, architectural historian and state historic preservation officer of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “You see them outside of the city, but you see most of them right here in Madison.”

These steel-paneled, barrel-roofed sheds and work buildings have been a big part of defining Madison’s look, particularly on the near east side, for more than a century. They can be spotted across the city — in backyards as garages, along East Main Street and East Washington Avenues as businesses and factories, off Sycamore and Walsh streets and along Lexington and Fair Oaks Avenues as warehouses. They are a part of almost every Madison Gas and Electric substation....

... [T]he strong verticals with multiple horizontals paired with the softness of the rounded roof line... contrast[] beautifully with nature, from weeds to blossoming trees to blue skies with angelic white clouds. Rust, rips, the buildup of many years of paint — Trachte buildings, as they decay, are catnip for the sort of photographer who likes to capture urban decay, the kind of photos known as “ruin porn.”

They are “ephemeral architecture,” says [Jason Tish, former executive director of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation.] “They’re not made to last for long periods of time, though many of them have proved to be remarkably durable.”
So we have what it takes to make Shed Legacy a proper name for this city. And, as with Austin, our city's current name carries the legacy of slavery:
By the early 1780s, the Madison family possessed well over one hundred slaves, and the Montpelier plantation had more slaves than any other in the county. Madison depended on slave labor to earn his income and admittedly felt financially “unable” to free the human beings he had legal title to. Thus both Madison and his neighbor Jefferson indicated that they could not afford to emancipate their black slave captives. Following the emergence of the anti-colonial movement for American independence and the democratic republican wave of humanist ideology, Madison professed to have developed a distaste for slavery. Like Jefferson and Washington, Madison indicated that he was searching for an alternative means of income that would allow him and his family to continue to enjoy a wealthy and privileged lifestyle. Madison contended, as did Jefferson, that slavery was on the road to gradual extinction on its own. Left alone it would eventually die.
Shed Legacy!

28 comments:

buwaya said...

Berkeley, CA, had a very similar controversy several years ago on the preservation of old sheds. They would have been ahead of the curve on this of course.

tcrosse said...

There are a few of these in the less-fashionable neighborhoods of St Paul. It's possible that Saul of Tarsus held slaves, but not likely after that incident on the road to Damascus.

Ralph L said...

It wasn't just that they'd lose their lifestyle, they'd be bankrupt. Most of the planters ran up huge debts with their English merchants. It was one of the things that drove Virginia to support independence. Washington became rich from land grants and Martha, neither of which was very liquid. She may have looked solid in her old age, but some people said she was a gas.

traditionalguy said...

Horrors! The Isthmus article has an ad for a red QANON hat.

Ralph L said...

My ancestors turned their chicken houses into garages, storage sheds, and a hunting doghouse. The biggest one is still standing mostly because the walls are heart pine flooring.

Come the Revolution, they'll replace geographic names with numbers, leading to another civil war, because no city or county wants to be #2.

Ralph L said...

Thoughtful details include this flowerlike screw head.

Yeah, the author is female. Looks like someone would have known about star drive screws.

William said...

Nietzsche observed that the values of Christianity ultimately subverted belief in Christianity. Thus so with many of the early framers of the constitution. They created an ethos that made slavery insupportable......Here's an interesting little known fact: the female slaves on southern plantations had more right to life--albeit not to liberty and the pursuit of happiness--than the less favored wives of the great African kings. Those wives were occasionally put to death based on the random caprice of their husband, the king. Why are only 18th and 19th century white North Americans expected to act in accordance with whatever we define as the present moment's dictates of conscience?

Original Mike said...

II’ve noticed those things my entire life but didn’t know they are a Madison thing.

Khesanh 0802 said...

I think Ann should start the movement to rename Madison. She clearly has a sold case. Certainly as solid as Harvard Law (dropped Wheat sheafs) or Yale that dropped Calhoun College.

mesquito said...

Until Madison, Austin, and Washington change their names everybody needs to shut the hell up.

buwaya said...

"--than the less favored wives of the great African kings. Those wives were occasionally put to death based on the random caprice of their husband, the king."

Henry VIII had similar proclivities. More paperwork was involved however.

Henry said...

Ruin porn -- Walker Evans

Crimso said...

The vortex strikes again! Your superpower is able to mold reality. Far out, man!

Dave Begley said...

Buckyville.

Qwerty Smith said...

Madison is an inapt name for the city, not due the man's owning slaves, but due to his reasons for opposing slavery. He believed that people are entitled to their labor and what they could acquire through creation and voluntary exchange.

More broadly, he was committed to a libertarian conception of freedom, including freedom of speech, religious liberty, property rights, the due process of law, free markets, limited government spending, and flat taxes.

Madison's namesake city seems to be filled with voters who reject all of this in favor of an authoritarian progressive hate cult. Perhaps it should be renamed for Pol Pot.

tcrosse said...

Soglin City.

anti-de Sitter space said...

Interesting choice of four cities.

I can see the wheels turning in the author's mind:

"Nobody in the grander vision of America gives an F about Madison, so when thinking of corollary-bolstering I can't go too over the top, but I gots ta point to other cities that mesh w/ my POV, but pointing to cities as obscure as Madison doesn't seem productive........................hell w/ it, I'm goin w/ one 'A city' and a couple 'Bs,' hopefully nobody notices that Madison is a 'C'"


Technically I don't spend much time in cities that have cache. Mostly not even in cities. But, I can whenever I want to. Anywho, there's no shame in Madison not being a real player. But, don't rely on other, more notable, cities and their architecture to justify loving Madison's architecture. That obvious insecurity is self defeating re yur cause.

IMHO.

Ambrose said...

They ought to change the name of Mad Men.

Paul Zrimsek said...

You're not getting away with this one. The same people who told you you're not entitled to live in Madison will tell you you're not allowed to live in Shed Legacy.

Char Char Binks said...

I'll sign the petition, even though I don't live in Shed Legacy.

Bad Lieutenant said...

but I carried on about the silly idea


I commend you, Althouse. The first step in solving a problem is to recognize it's existence.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Monty Python's view:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92Wh1CibAl0

James K said...

Jefferson was always something of a coward and hypocrite when it came to sacrificing or taking real risks for his principles. But I'm sympathetic to the notion that it would have been economic suicide to give up slavery unilaterally, and try to pay market wages when everyone else was able to exploit slave labor. Still, he ended up hugely indebted.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Hugely indebted because of his lavish lifestyle.

WA-mom said...

We must have shed photos.

Known Unknown said...

exhelodrvr1's link in a clickable version:

When you want to talk about Shed Legacy, you must speak of Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson.

PackerBronco said...

Madison should be renamed "Shed Reality" ...

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