Normal Hall

1156 Olin–Turville Ct.     Built 1884     D.R. Jones     Madison landmark
Monona Lake Assembly Normal Hall
A 450-seat lecture hall built for the Wisconsin Sunday School Assembly, or the Monona Lake Assembly as it was often known, a joint Protestant effort to teach Sunday School teachers.

During the sessions, the grounds resembled a tent city. Steamships and trains were scheduled for stops at the grounds and a streetcar line was eventually built to serve the camp. People came from all over the Midwest numbering as many as 15,000.

Built as a “normal,” or teaching house. The assembly was a Chautauqua-like organization that hosted meetings where people camped on the grounds and attended religion classes, lectures and entertainment shows. After about 20 years of use by the Assembly, the city bought the land for a park in 1912

In 1919, 'Monona Park' was opened up to tourists for camping. Normal Hall, or the “old barn” during those days was used as a dance hall. This is one of the few remaining buildings connected with Madison's heyday as a resort community.

In 1923, the Common Council renamed the park Olin Park in honor of John Olin the founder of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Assn. Olin fought developers who sought to build lakefront homes and managed to preserve the park.