The first ever Ranch and Split-level houses in Madison to take advantage of the Historic Tax Credit program will be in the University-Hill Farms and Sunset Hills neighborhoods. These two neighborhoods have been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as historic districts. They’re not officially listed in the Register until the nominations are given final approval by the National Park Service but that is expected in the coming months. Once listed, over 900 homes in these two neighborhoods (those deeignated as “contributing” to the historic character of the districts) will be eligible for the state tax credit program. The program returns 25% of expenses on qualified repairs and maintenance to home-owners in the form of a direct credit to their state income tax obligation. So spend $10,000 on a new roof, and get a $2500 credit to your WI income tax obligation (you can take the credit over several years if your tax obligation isn’t large enough in one year)
Ranch and Split-level style homes were extremely popular in the U.S. in the post-war decades of the 1950s, -60, and -70. If you were an American kid during these years there’s a high probability that you lived in one.
The post-war years saw huge demand for new housing as veterans returned from WWII duties, married their sweethearts, attended college on the GI Bill, and started new families. Madison, being a college town, felt these pressures as much as any city, growing 42% between 1940 and 1950. To meet the demand for new housing new suburban subdivisions were platted, and thousands of new houses were built, most of them on the city’s west side. Along with all of the new, modern consumer products and conveniences, young homebuyers wanted new, modern homes. The sleek, low-slung, Ranch and Split-level styles represented the new, and in most cases, the modern. They styles were popular throughout the country, and millions were built nationwide during these decades.
What makes these neighborhoods stand out against the tide of such homes during this period is the conditions under which the subdivisions were built. University-Hill Farms was planned as a self-sufficient community with residential areas, parcels for schools and churches, and nearby commercial and employment centers. It is a distinct mid-century neighborhood with a high degree of integrity. In Sunset Hills building lots were sold with a deed restrictions that homes must be designed by an architect and must be of “Contemporary and Modern design.” Homes in this district exhibit unique, high-style designs by some of Madison’s prominent architects practicing at the time.