Harold Bewick: Builder of My Ranch

2 min read A little insight into my ranch’s inception. It, along with some 300 other local homes, was built in 1952 by a local contractor. Today, I find out a little more.

My ranch was built in 1952 by one Harold Berwick.  The permit – left with some other house papers in a basement cabinets – lists him as “owner” rather than contractor but he never occupied the space, just developed it on spec and passed it along. He apparently did a super speedy job of construction. 

The application date on the permit is January 21, 1952 and it was approved June 28.  The original owners Mr. and Mrs. William Feieriesen have a birth announcement for their son (born August 29th) in the Wisconsin State Journal listing this as their address.

I am wildly curious to know which of those dates is hard.  Did the house really go up and get moved into in just two months?  I know it was a boom time and it is a small and simple house but that still blows my mind.

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Here’s Harold’s pic among the other past presidents of the Wisconsin Builders Association and a bio via the National Register of Historic Places application for my neighboring neighborhood, University Hill Farms:

Harold Bewick (1919-unknown) came to Madison in 1928 from near Mason City, Iowa. He graduated from East High School, attended the University of Wisconsin for a semester, married his wife Marie, quit school and got a job at Gisholt Machine Co. in Madison. After serving in the Navy in World War II, Bewick bought two lots in Monona, Wisconsin and built two houses, one for himself and his wife and one to sell, which happened immediately.

He continued to build houses in the greater Madison area until his retirement at the age of 58, after which he sold real estate. Bewick estimated that in his career he built nearly 300 houses and more than 2000 apartments.

Here’s the ad for his contribution to the 1952 Parade of Homes in the Wisconsin State Journal archive bragging of large bedrooms designed for restful quiet, a real fireplace and oak trim for a luxurious, expensive look!  The team of sub contractors listed are all the same as the ones on my building permit.

Interestingly, the Parade of Homes house advertised for sale at nearly 18,000 when my own permit lists the estimated complete cost a “not over” 10,000.  Today homes in that vicinity are going for around 100,000 less than those in my neighborhood.  Location, huh?

parade of homes ad 1952

Bewick went on to construct some more dramatic house forms as time went on.  Several of his later buildings, including his 1961, Charles and Eunice Eikel, Jr. House is listed in the Wisconsin Historical Society property records.

later bewick house