Linda Grashoff's Photography Adventures

Garver Feed Mill—Renaissance and Memory

October 6, 2019

Twelve years ago during a walk to find photographs in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was visiting, I passed what looked like an abandoned building. On it was painted the name Garver. I have a friend whose last name is Garver, so of course I took a snapshot to show her. This summer my daughter and daughter-in-law treated me to a return visit to the building—vacant for two decades before renovation began in 2017. They didn’t know I had photographed it in 2007 but thought I would find the Garver Feed Mill interesting. (They are great scouts!) This time I photographed in earnest,  trying hard not to wish I had been witness to many more of the building’s iterations. A plaque outside one of the doors gave information about the building, and putting this post together I learned more. I find it interesting that the Wisconsin State Capitol and the Garver Feed Mill were completed in the same year. And it’s fun to see that remnants of old graffiti add an artistic touch to the cleaned masonry. I like buildings that hold visual evidence of their past; this one also included bricked-in doorways and windows, patched walls, sheared-off I-beams, and what must be gouges from former industrial activity. If you’d like to know more about the Garver Feed Mill, don’t miss the Wisconsin State Journal article that features photographs taken through the years, going back to 1924. Also of interest are an article in the Wisconsin State Farmer and two links on a City of Madison web page: the Garver Final Report and a presentation by the restoration architects.

1 This is the photograph I took in 2007.

2 This is the photograph I took of the same wall this August.


This is steel (I think) cladding on a newer part of the facade. The next two photographs are from nearby sections of the wall.







11 I learned from my reading that the white bricks indicate water damage.

12 Were these patches on an interior wall made lately or in older times? My guess is older times.








20 Even the new women’s room’s concrete floor has artistic appeal.


21 responses

  1. Mary Nelson

    I enjoy looking at the photos you include. What has happened to the building now?


    October 6, 2019 at 1:36 PM

    • It’s going strong, Mary. If you click on “article in the Wisconsin State Farmer” in the paragraph at the top of the page, you can see what kinds of food-related businesses are housed there now. Glad you’re still enjoying the photos.


      October 6, 2019 at 1:45 PM

  2. What a great subject to photograph. I like things that are made to last. The renovation looks well done. I’m sure there is plenty of life in this old building. Excellent shots, btw!


    October 6, 2019 at 1:57 PM

    • Thank you, Ken. Did you look at any of the photos of the building before renovation? It’s hard for me to imagine putting that Humpty Dumpty together again. I just love that people did.


      October 6, 2019 at 5:17 PM

      • The folks that renovated this beauty have managed to keep the look and charm of the old while incorporating a modern, workable treasure. We have some old places in Rochester and I’m always impressed when I see a renovation that keeps the spirit of the older structure. There’s fine craftsmanship in some of these old structures and I’m glad to see it brought into the modern world while still retaining its original good looks.

        Liked by 1 person

        October 6, 2019 at 7:03 PM

  3. I really like the wooden walls you found.  They are so scratched and venerable.


    October 6, 2019 at 5:54 PM

    • I’m glad you like those walls, Lynda. I have to tell you, though, that I think they are steel or some other metal rather than wood. The scratched patterns may be from acid, intentionally applied. That’s my guess.


      October 6, 2019 at 7:19 PM

  4. Yes, they led you to a good place, one that you had already found but now has a new life. Kudos to all involved in ensuring that it was repurposed without losing the essence of what it was. I enjoyed looking through the Wisconsin State Journal article and seeing the photos from past years – that helped me get a sense of the role this building played in the region. I used to see places like this (but not so large) in upstate NY, CT, etc. and I always admired them. I’ve seen some good restorations, too – an old brick building on the Hudson River that became artists’ studios comes to mind, and a plant chemistry research facility from the same era where my father had his very first real job comes to mind, too. They saved it just in time. You had fun with the surfaces! The steel is beautiful. The composition in #7 is very skillful. The I beams in the brick with the old arch are telling stories. The colored bricks you picked out are intriguing – so many colors from who-knows-what in the past! The final shot is a great coda.


    October 6, 2019 at 8:58 PM

    • Thanks, Lynn. Reading your comment, I realize that this post is more documentary than most of mine. I’m happy that you were able to appreciate the story—and add to it. But now that I see that I was documenting more than creating, I’m anxious to get into the art end of photography. Good thing, too, because next time I’ll post more in my intentional camera movement series. Those usually take a lot of work in Lightroom and Photoshop.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 7, 2019 at 3:35 PM

      • I get it! There are posts that are more straightforward and those that are more artistic, and I too have felt the urge to make and post more artistic work after posting something that is primarily documentary. No matter what you do next, I will enjoy it, I’m sure of that.

        Liked by 1 person

        October 12, 2019 at 7:13 PM

  5. What an amazing place. What wonderful photographs. You have a very seasoned eye for color and pattern and it really shows.


    October 6, 2019 at 11:51 PM

    • I’m so glad that you can appreciate this place, too, And thanks for your kind comments, Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 7, 2019 at 3:47 PM

  6. Fine set, Linda! Love the steel-plates and the colored bricks. See you!


    October 7, 2019 at 3:02 AM

    • Thanks, Harrie. I hope I’m right about those plates being steel. I can’t think what else they could be. Maybe I can find out if I go back there next year; I couldn’t find anything that looked like them on the Internet.


      October 7, 2019 at 3:49 PM

  7. The bits of blue attracted my attention in 16, and what a conglomerate of rich colors you caught in 19.


    October 7, 2019 at 8:13 AM

    • I guess this building was the graffiti artist’s paradise for a long time before renovation. Wish I’d photographed these same walls when the graffiti was still whole, too.


      October 7, 2019 at 3:52 PM

  8. There are a lot of stories told by old buildings and a good forensic eye can pick them out. I especially liked the abstracts you found. Those of the steel especially.


    October 8, 2019 at 4:37 AM

    • Thank you, Steve. When we approached the building, I could tell right away that I wanted to photograph the brickwork. Seeing the nearby steel panels was a surprising treat.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 8, 2019 at 12:55 PM

  9. Some interesting textures there!


    October 20, 2019 at 2:04 PM

    • Yes, I thought so. Even the individual bricks and the mortar between them have texture.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 20, 2019 at 2:12 PM

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