Built for “ease and comfort”

Constructed by local builder Charles E. Marks, the Bellevue was the largest and most expensive apartment building erected during Madison's pre-World War I apartment house boom. Advertised as a place of "ease and comfort," the Bellevue featured such Victorian luxuries as built-in leaded glass bookcases and fireplaces.

The kitchen are cozy, but tenants back then had no need to cook since their meals could be delivered via a dumbwaiter from a kitchen in the basement. Laundry, too, could be sent down as well to be washed and ironed. A system using brine in the basement pumped cold water into tenants' ice boxes, and there was central vacuum. Garbage wasn't a chore, either, because chutes on each floor led to an incinerator in the basement. An elevator has been there since the beginning, and the current one was installed in the 1940s.

Photo from the 1950s

The Bellevue's importance in Madison's history, is that it is not only one of the city's earliest apartment buildings, but one of the biggest and most luxurious. It went up at a curious time in the city's past, when both streetcar suburbs such as University Heights and Westmorland were springing up, but Downtown density was growing.