A Brief History of Arbor Hills
In 1956 the newly formed Arbor Heights Development Corporation purchased farmlands and woods east of Grady Tract and south of the Beltline, platted the land, built the brick monuments at the entrance, paved a boulevard to the top of the hill, called it Arbor Hills, and began offering lots for sale. In 1958 the developers sponsored a Parade of Homes on the west side of lower Grandview Blvd. Along the east side there was still a farm belonging to the Frederick family. The next year, 1959, saw another Parade of Homes, this time on a new side street west of Grandview called Nottingham Way, and in 1960 another Parade followed on Kingston Drive. Soon houses sprang and a neighborhood began to emerge. In 1962, thirteen women who foresaw the need for a neighborhood improvement and beautification association organized the Arbor Hills Garden Club, which by 1966 had attracted nearly 50 members. This group would in the ensuing years become a significant force in protecting the best interests of the neighborhood and in raising considerable funds for boulevard landscaping and park development.
By the summer of 1965, the developers began the third addition to the neighborhood on the east side of the 3100 block of Grandview Blvd. to Leyton Lane. Also roughly graded were the future Pelham Road up to the future park site and part of Derby Down. Meanwhile, Todd Drive and Post Road were being bulldozed through the former cornfields of the Bowman Dairy and into the woods to connect with Grandview. In 1968, the fourth addition was opened. Pelham Road was extended to Todd Drive; Derby Down and Wimbledon Way, Ashford Lane and Heatherdell Lane, and Sandwood Way, Knollwood Way, Westview Court, and Irvington Way were graded and paved. Aldo Leopold School was built in 1969 to accommodate the new families.
The original neighborhood plan contained only 4.5 acres for a hilltop park along Pelham. The land below that down the hill to Wimbledon Way was platted to become ten building lots on a cul-de-sac. Since the arrival of the first residents, this hill had been a magnet for winter fun. One early resident installed a rope tow for skiing. Children congregated with sleds on what was one of the very best sledding hills in Madison. It seemed a shame that houses should replace this great asset. Concerned citizens advocated for preservation of this green space, thus one of the prime sledding hills in the city with the beautiful view of the horizon over Fitchburg remains today.
Throughout the decades as Arbor Hills grew into a more established neighborhood, the Garden Club took on the task of caring for and replacing the original brick monuments at the entrance to the neighborhood, advocated for funding for lighting in Arbor Hills, and organized and raised money for plantings, decorations, and landscaping. Members worked with residents and elected officials to reach shared goals and the results were a beautiful place to live. The roots of community cooperation and spirit run deep in our neighborhood and we are so proud to continue with this tradition at the Arbor Hills Neighborhood Association.
Many people over a long period of time cared enough and were willing to put forth the effort and sometimes money required to accomplish great things in Arbor Hills. We are so excited to welcome you to your new home and hope that you feel the pride that we carry with us as we live together as neighbors. We invite you to join us as active community residents of Arbor Hills!