Office of the President

Brittingham House History

Official Residence

Members of the Brittingham family continue their interest in the university and "Dunmuven."

Bryan Reid, a grandson of Thomas E. and Mary Brittingham, once commented: 

"Many of us, including myself, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison...We are pleased to have the opportunity to continue the Brittingham traditions and are delighted that Grandfather's house is the home of the President of the University of Wisconsin System. If Grandfather were alive, it would please him very much."

The university initially used the Brittingham House as office space for the Polar Science Research group of the UW‑Madison's Geology and Geophysics Department until 1968, when Chancellor and Mrs. William Sewell became the first to use it as an unofficial chancellor's residence. Inadequate heating, however, made it less than an ideal home during Madison winters.

In 1969, when President Fred Harvey Harrington and his wife Nancy Harrington were prospective residents, the house received much needed new wiring, heating, and plumbing. A sunporch off the living room and a new garage‑apartment wing were added. Mrs. Harrington worked with the state's architects and the University's Planning and Construction Department on the changes. The house was not ready for occupancy, however, until after Dr. Harrington had left the presidency.

Photo of Edwin Young
Edwin Young , UW System President (1977-1980).

Additional remodeling, renovation, and refurnishing, funded by the Brittingham family trust, was directed in 1973 by Margot Donald, the daughter of Margaret Brittingham Reid. The house became the official UW‑Madison chancellor's residence the same year. 

Brittingham House was designated the official residence for the UW System President in 1977 when UW-Madison Chancellor Edwin Young became president of the University of Wisconsin System. The historic Olin House in University Heights, which had previously been the president's official residence, then became the UW‑Madison chancellor's residence.

In addition to being home to the UW System president, the Brittingham House hosts as many as 3,000 visitors each year at numerous UW System events, including formal dinners, receptions, and meetings.

Photo of dining room at holiday time

Dining room at holiday time.



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