Legacy of Madison’s Silver Dollar Tavern Will Live on in Future Wiscon | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

Legacy of Madison’s Silver Dollar Tavern Will Live on in Future Wisconsin History Center

For Immediate Release (January 17, 2024)

Legacy of Madison’s Silver Dollar Tavern Will Live on in Future Wiscon | Wisconsin Historical Society

Fourth-Generation Owners Gift Historic Tavern Bar to Wisconsin Historical Society

Madison, Wis. – When Madison’s oldest post-prohibition tavern closes its doors next month, it won’t be a final goodbye. Nostalgic patrons will again have a chance to pull up a stool to the 1930s mahogany bar top when the new Wisconsin History Center opens on Capitol Square in early 2027. The Teasdale Family, fourth-generation owners of the Silver Dollar Tavern, have gifted the 43-foot-long wooden bar—along with its vintage backbar cabinetry and lighting, iconic neon signs and other memorabilia—to the Wisconsin Historical Society for use in the future history center. The Silver Dollar Tavern was opened in 1933 by Clyde Teasdale after the end of prohibition and became a beloved Madison institution for nearly a century. The Teasdale family recently sold the property at 117 West Mifflin Street to Hovde Properties.

EnlargeSilver Dollar Tavern

“It feels good to know that when we close the doors next month, the 90-year legacy of our family business will live on in Wisconsin history,” said Chuck Teasdale, fourth-generation co-owner of the Silver Dollar Tavern. “Just down the street, stories of our city and state will continue to be told around the Silver Dollar bar top.”

The Silver Dollar Tavern was selected for its historical significance locally and its familiar representation of post-prohibition era bars and the family-owned taverns prominent in the state’s social and cultural history.

“It’s rare to see a fourth-generation tavern—it’s an extraordinary thing,” said Jim Draeger, architectural historian, historic preservation expert and co-author of “Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries.” “At a time when family-owned taverns are falling by the wayside, it’s fitting that the Wisconsin Historical Society would preserve one of the rare survivors from our state, giving it new life for future generations.”  

The historic bar set and accompanying memorabilia will serve as inspiration for the final design of the fifth floor gathering and event space in the five-story, 100,000-square-foot history center. The bar will be a full-service, active destination within the center, welcoming guests to pull up a stool, order a beverage and continue the longstanding Wisconsin tradition of social gathering.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Teasdale family for this generous gift to the Wisconsin History Center,” said Christian Overland, Ruth and Hartley Barker Director & CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “We’ve been searching for the right iconic tavern bar to serve as a focal point of the top floor event space. Welcoming one of the state’s oldest post-prohibition bars—and the stories and meaningful memories that come with it—into the design of a dynamic new space is an exciting opportunity.”

The Wisconsin History Center is designed to be a place of learning, inquiry and exploration as well as a destination for community gathering. The Society has partnered with an industry-leading architectural and exhibition design team that includes Ralph Appelbaum Associates as well as Continuum Architects + Planners and SmithGroup. The new center will be located on the site of the former museum and two adjacent properties on Carroll Street.

For more information on the new history center project, visit wisconsinhistory.org/historycenter

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About Wisconsin Historical Society 
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both a state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people every year through a wide range of sites, programs and services. The Wisconsin Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, receives grants and private contributions benefitting the Wisconsin Historical Society and administers the membership program. For more information, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org