Painting a 20th Century Trachte Building

On our walk Monday morning we discovered an oil painter perched on the sidewalk in front of a Trachte building on Commercial Avenue. I went up to say hello. He introduced himself as John Elliot and told us the story of how the building was his favorite record store during college.

Painter John Elliot Photo: Rebecca Cuningham


Mr. Elliot went to college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I asked him what record that he bought at the store was his favorite and he said he couldn’t name just one. He smiled and said he still prefers LPs because of their superior sound. John paints with oils in his retirement. I asked him if he has a website, he does not. His works are at a small local gallery.

John Elliot, Painter Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

The Trachte buildings are common throughout east Madison, because the company was founded here in 1901 by George and Arthur Trachte. In the 1950s, their Quonset Hut design became popular, like the building in these photos. Until 1985 their business was located within a half mile away in our neighborhood. They have moved to the city next door, Sun Prairie, in order to have enough space for their business. After 120 years, the company still makes steel prefabricated self storage structures.

Trachte building. Photo: Rebecca Cuningham
Parting shot of the Trachte building and painter Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

One by one the Trachte structures in our city have fallen into disuse and many are no longer around. I’m glad John Elliot is conserving this bit of Madison history with his paintings.

¡Olé! –Rebecca

This post is part of Debbie’s Six Word Saturday.

#6WS  #sixwordsaturday

Rebecca Cuningham

9 thoughts on “Painting a 20th Century Trachte Building

  1. It’s great that John Elliot has found a way to preserve his happy memories of a favorite place now in disuse. During the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, it hurt to see my favorite coffee shop go out of business and then watch the space change hands over the years since then.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate this short, but lovely post on a piece of history in Madison. I hope the Trachte Buildings become historic landmarks, just because their architecture is so distinctive. It’s great you talk to locals to learn about their craft in preserving such places!

    Liked by 2 people

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