A gift of the Class of 1946: the Frautschi Point entrance

Purple and yellow wildflowers bloom in front of the informational kiosk at the Frautschi Point entrance.
Photo by Bryn Scriver.

When the Class of 1946 planned a sixty-year reunion, the Class Committee invited members to support multiple small gifts to the University, perhaps including one to benefit the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. The Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve were given the opportunity to make suggestions, and offered three options that could be undertaken either separately or in combination. The Class elected to make a gift of landscaping at the entry to Frautschi Point.

UW-Madison in 1946

In 1946, when the class was on campus, the UW was welcoming thousands of returning GIs. It was a time of trailers, Quonset huts, and “temporary” buildings (some of which would remain for another fifty years). A ski jump topped Muir Knoll, and the carillon tower stood alone, surrounded by a beautiful woods.

Picnic Point had been a part of the campus only since 1941. It beckoned students who took the Lakeshore Path to take a stroll in a beautiful natural setting or to get away from the pressure of studies. It was a destination for canoe trips, a picnic site, and a place for a swim at the beach or for a secret tryst. Cows had grazed there just a few years before!

Second Point becomes Frautschi Point

But if you wanted in 1946 to continue to walk along the lakeshore from Picnic Point to the Tent Colony, you would have been trespassing. Beyond Picnic Point was “Second Point,” privately owned land, where you would have encountered a family’s summer enclave, their “cottages,” duck hunting blinds, and a seaplane hanger.

In 1990, Second Point was given to the university in honor of UW graduate Walter Frautschi—a wonderful family gift from his sons. It was named Frautschi Point in his honor. For the first time in the history of UW-Madison, an unbroken natural shoreline extended from just west of the Memorial Union all the way to the Village of Shorewood Hills—where, in 1946, many university faculty members were building their homes in the former College Hills.

En route to the western end of campus

A particularly beautiful excursion at the western end of campus is along Lake Mendota Drive en route to Frautschi Point from University Bay Drive and the Class of 1918 Marsh. Here, one follows an old road first laid out by the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association under an arched canopy of mature trees through major wooded areas of the Preserve and beside the Eagle Heights Community Gardens .

The feel of the road changes right where Lake Mendota Drive makes a sharp turn to the southwest, paralleling the shore and the Tent Colony Woods. On the right side of the road is the entrance and parking lot for Frautschi Point. The tree canopy ends, and parking lots and student apartments appear on the left.

Beautifying the entrance to Frautschi Point

To make this key entry to the Preserve more beautiful, the Class of 1946 is supporting the landscaping of the open areas at and near the Frautschi Point entry. Native trees and plants will be provided, and the plan will seek to enhance the beauty of the old stone wall at the entrance to the Point. A natural vegetative screen will be developed to significantly enhance the Lake Mendota Drive corridor. This class gift will not only provide long-term benefit to the campus and the Preserve. It will also enhance the experience of all who travel this beautiful route, one of the prettiest in the Madison area.

Learn how you can contribute to the Preserve here.