Blair Street Gardens Banner

About Us/Our Gardens


Created in 1985, Blair Street Gardens Committee, Inc. is a private, non-profit community organization. BSG volunteers design, plant, and maintain two gardens on public property at the intersection of Blair, Williamson, and Wilson Streets and John Nolen Drive in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. (BSG also maintained a third garden - a small bed next to the MGE building on S. Blair Street - which MGE employees now maintain.) With the help of contributors and volunteers, the Gardens brighten the cityscape of this busy corner just blocks from the State Capitol. We have two garden areas:

  • The Gateway Garden on the 600 block of Williamson Street (in front of the Gateway Mall and across from Machinery Row Bikes)
  • Wilson Green on the 400 block of E. Wilson Street (next to the Crowley Pumping Station and across from Come Back Inn)
Drawing of Blair Street Gardens


The history of Blair Street Gardens is highlighted in this news article about Jeff Kuesel, who helped found the organization and was the chief volunteer for decades.

The site of The Gateway Garden was once a gas station. The site of Wilson Green was once a railroad storage yard.

We have no paid staff, receive minimal government services or funding, and rely on contributions from individuals and businesses to support the Gardens. Our volunteers mulch, plant, weed and water the Gardens. Please check the Donations page for information about how to donate.


Wilson Green on the 400 block of E. Wilson Street (across the street from Come Back Inn)

wilson Green 1
wilson Green 4
wilson Green 2
wilson Green 3
wilson Green 5


The old Gateway Garden on Williamson Street (see Gateway Photo Gallery for the transformation to the new design)

Old Gateway Garden 1
Old Gateway Garden 2


The New Gateway Garden

New Gateway Garden 1
New Gateway Garden 2
New Gateway Garden 3
New Gateway Garden 4
New Gateway Garden 4


History Lesson

News from Blair Street Gardens - and a history lesson too. In the early years of settlement, the 600 block of Williamson Street (the block Machinery Row Bikes and BSG's Gateway Gardens is on) was a narrow road (and before then it was a path used by the Ho-Chunk). In the 1940's, houses and commercial buildings were torn down to widen the street and create the westbound lanes we drive on today. One of the houses destroyed was the imposing brick home of the Reiner family.

Immigrants from Germany and Switzerland, the Reiners settled in Madison in the 1850's and built a successful blacksmith business on Willy Street. In 1855, on their home on Willy Street, they erected what is believed to be the first Christmas tree in Madison and perhaps the U.S. In memory of the Reiner family, about 20 years ago an evergreen tree was planted by the family and an historic plaque installed at the intersection of Williamson Street and John Nolen Drive. The tree had to be removed several years ago.

On June 10, 2021 we planted a new evergreen to continue the tradition. A Virginia Juniper 'Canaertii' was selected because it is native to Wisconsin and is believed to be the type of evergreen that the Reiners would have erected as their first Christmas tree. It will be lighted by the family every holiday season. Please stop by to enjoy the Gateway Garden.

Bringing in the tree
Digging a hole big enough for the evergreen
Manouvering the tree to the right place
The tree is in the ground!
Johann Jacob Reiner and Elsbeth Kitz
Memorial plaque

Check us out on Facebook.