Owning a home in the Hill Farms neighborhood means that you are living in the first planned community in the state of Wisconsin. While other neighborhoods, Nakoma, or Eastmorland were platted and built with a unified vision in mind, that vision often excluded things like businesses (Nakoma originally outlawed businesses in the neighborhood) or apartment complexes which necessitated commuting into Madison for work or shopping. Hill Farms was built with a different set of values – the integrated, convenient life, with schools, shopping, businesses all within walking distance.
The land that became Hill Farms had been farm land, that had eventually been sold to the University of Wisconsin for use as an agricultural laboratory. By the early 1950’s, Madison was starting to encroach, and the university wanted to move it’s laboratory further out of town, AND there was a serious need for more housing within the city. The state government and the UW Board of Regents agreed to sell the land, but to do it in a way that would not only create profit for the University, and raise the tax base for the city, but would also provide a test site for some of the then modern ideas about community planning.
The boundaries of the neighborhood are generally thought of as University Drive on the north, Mineral point road on the south, Rosa Rd and Whitney Way (by way of Rosa St on the west, and Midvale Blvd on the east, though technically Hill Farms starts a block or so west of Midvale.
The schools in the neighborhood (Van Hise and Hamilton) are generally centrally located, and the neighborhood incorporates crafty pedestrian paths mid-block in several places to make it easier for folks walking to and from the schools from their homes, again a part of the planned integrated walkable community.
Architecturally the homes in the neighborhood are exactly what one should expect from a “modern” housing development constructed during the ’50’s and 60’s and reflects the values of the era. Homes are larger than in older portions of town, most have 2 car attached garages, and they are predominantly ranch, or split level style homes. Lot sizes are generous and almost all have at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
When it comes to real estate home values in Hill Farms, it is unusual to get into a single family home in the neighborhood for less than $300,000, though the neighborhood does also, by design, include apartments and condos, both at lower price points.
Hilldale Mall and Metcalfe’s grocery store call Hill Farms home, as does the Sundance Movie Theater, the Red Cross offices, as well as a handful of churches and State office buildings.
Over all, the neighborhood is conveniently located on the west side, comfortably nestled about midway between the capitol and Middleton, with an equally easy commute to Verona. On the other hand, if one does not want to leave – most services are within walking distance. It is easy to understand why lots of folks like the neighborhood and want to call it home.