The new Brassworks facility, located across the street and along the Capital City Bike Path, allows the Center to better meet the growing needs present in our community. We have restored the historic facade of the original Madison Brass Works building, and built a total of over 30,000 square feet for education, employment and enrichment programming for youth and community rooms. The Brassworks facility houses all of our middle, high school, college, and career readiness programs; administrative offices as well as beautiful spaces for our community.
The Goodman campus expansion project was first conceived back in 2014, when a longtime supporter of Goodman saw a for sale sign go up in front of the Madison Brass Works building. She asked Becky Steinhoff, our executive director, to go for a walk and as they passed the old industrial building, she planted the seed, "Becky, why don't you buy it? Wouldn't that ease the stressors of your crowded programs?" At the time, Becky laughed. But, she knew Becky wouldn't be able to stop thinking about the possibilities. So, two years later, generous friends donated the money for us to purchase the building.
The need is great and Goodman is poised to make our community stronger... for everyone. The Center serves a wide range of community members of all ages, and it has seen exponential growth since 2008. We know a whole lot of kids with unrealized potential, older adults who need community, and people of all ages who want to connect as a community — with the diverse people who truly make Madison rich.
Revitalizing historical pursuits
What happened in the original Brass Works building is more historically significant than the building itself. The Madison Brass Works fabricated brass fitting and bronze and aluminum castings, including the plaque mounted on Bascom Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus, which proclaims that “…the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the Truth can be found.” You can find these plaques on every University of Wisconsin campus.
The firm was the only brass foundry in Madison, and continued in business until 1994. Tom Pankratz bought the property in 1995. His foundry produced custom metal castings of brass, bronze and aluminum as well as iron forging. Goodman Community Center purchased the building in 2015.
The original section of the building was erected around the turn of the last century. The building, a "one-story production shed," is a heavy-timber structure 80 feet wide by 180 feet long. It demonstrates a classic factory form characterized by an abundance of ground floor windows and two rows of high central clerestory windows, maximizing natural light and ventilation. We were told that this was a historically significant site because it was one of very few examples of this type of architecture left in Dane County. So in May 2007, we applied for placement on the National Register of Historic Places and by June we received preliminary approval by the National Park Service. On July 20, 2007, The State Historical Society made it official!
We're thrilled to be preserving our local industrial history, and it's a tremendous financial boost as it makes the Center eligible for Historic Tax Credits, which brought in significant additional funding to help fund our new facility.
In 2019 we reconfigured and revitalized the building by adding early childhood and elementary classrooms, consolidating all fitness programs in the gym building, creating more spaces for seniors, enlarging the food pantry and adding more space for the community to gather.
A rich industrial history
Four industrial manufacturers operated in the Ironworks building over the last century, beginning with the American Shredder Company. In 1906 the Steinle Turret Lathe Machine Company took over and added the building until it ran the entire length of the block. In 1940 the Theo Kupfer Iron Works purchased the building and a year later, erected the 320-foot long steel gantry that has become a neighborhood landmark. In 1990 Durline Scale Company moved in. To read about the companies that have called this building home, click here.
By 2001, investors were exploring commercial redevelopment of the site. We were able to purchase the property at the end of 2005, thanks to an anonymous donation.
Interested in learning more about the history of the east side of Madison? Check out our East Side History Club.
Green, green, green
Right from the beginning, our staff and board wanted Ironworks to be as green and sustainable as possible. That commitment influenced every decision - from the architect and construction contractor we selected, to the landscaping and furnishings we chose. Early on, we worked with the Madison Environmental Group on a recycling plan for the demolition and construction phases which included crushing and recycling existing concrete, recycling all scrap metal and wood and recycling all lighting fixtures and bulbs. All of the concrete that was demolished on-site was ground and reused as the base for our parking lots and gym.
As we did our research, we took our cue from two leading green building management and certification systems: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the Green Globes system. While we did not pursue certification from either program because of costs involved, we followed their guidelines. Our architects tallied up the LEED points we would qualify for and determined that the building would likely meet the LEED Gold standard ranking.
For a list of the sustainable features of the Goodman Community Center, click here.