History of the 100 State Street Building

Imagine a time when State Street only had a dozen buildings. A street that would come to showcase the Philosopher’s Stones, the Orpheum Theater (or “theatre” if you’re that fancy), your go-to bar, and your favorite slice at Ian’s started out much differently. Looking around our State Street location with all the elaborate molding, huge columns, and high ceilings you’d think we were some Victorian folks in top hats with a hankering for Mac n’ Cheese. As much as we love the swanky appeal of a top hat (who doesn’t?!) it’s only because our building came way before our pizza. Ready for some history to be dropped on ya? Ian’s Pizza at 100 State Street is in what’s formally known as the Wisconsin Building. Built in 1900, it began as one bank among many around the Capitol before taking on its title of the Commercial National Bank. Big-wigs from all around came to the grand opening on Wednesday, March 7th, 1923. Built in the neoclassical style, it boasted Roman columns, sculpted Italian marble, and American walnut trim around the inside. Traces of some of these can still be seen around Ian’s today (along with multiple safes that are also still there). Come in through our corner entrance and you’ll see a snapshot of how the building once looked, along with a safe door bearing the bank’s name. We keep our super-secret recipes in the safe downstairs! *Historical aside: The reason we can’t serve beer and wine in our restaurant is not because the staff would drink it all (baseless rumors!). It’s because of an old Prohibition law regarding serving alcohol, building ownership, and how sometimes the two don’t mix. It makes us sad, but it’s not like you can’t get a good brew just steps from our front door…. Anyway, as the banking years of the building came to a close and the top hats became shorter, the building went through the motions that many State Street buildings did by housing a wide variety of businesses, in a downtown that was somewhat in decline. Happy days were ahead, however! Decades later it turned into the new home for the Madison Children’s Museum, which opened there on Saturday, June 15, 1991. Many of us today still remember our own good times kickin’ it in wooden forts and playing construction with the crane. Come 2010 the space on State wasn’t big enough for the awesome ruckus of the Children’s Museum, though, and they found their new home on North Hamilton, which left the building vacant once again. Throw in a few cans of paint, a lot of hard work, and a pizza-based dream, and it became the new home for Ian’s Pizza on State on May 2, 2012. Ian’s moved up the block into the old bank for many reasons, but mostly we just felt it was a better space to get our pizza more efficiently from the ovens to your bellies. So stop on in and enjoy a slice in one of Madison’s great historical sites. We boast the highest pizza-to-history ratio in the city, and you can take that to the bank! Haha! See what we did there? Yeah, okay, we won’t quit our day jobs.  


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