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Madison Business College

Madison, Wisconsin



Madison Business College received newspaper coverage from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in 1998 during its unfortunate attempt to establish a football program.  The 1901 American College Directory carries a good early history and profile of the school.



In 1895 the Wisconsin School Journal noted that the school “attempted only regular business college work,” having abandoned academic work and dropped the telegraphy department.  At that time enrollment was around 200. 


The school advertisement in American College Directory featured its two courses of study—Commercial and Shorthand.  The commercial curriculum included bookkeeping, penmanship, business arithmetic, commercial law, correspondence, grammar and spelling.  The shorthand curriculum included shorthand and typing in addition to correspondence, grammar and spelling.  There was also an English curriculum which did not include bookkeeping, shorthand or typing.  The school prided itself that its bookkeeping department used actual business practices.






In 1908 G. E. Spohn bought out the school and reorganized it as Capital City Commercial College. (See logo above)  Spohn was praised for his “practical relation to the business community.” Ads for C.C.C.C.  showed seven departments, adding Pen-Art, Telegraphy, and Advertising to the earlier offerings of Northwestern Business College.


By World War II ads show a name change to Madison College and later to Madison Business College. As Madison Junior College of Business, it became an accredited institution, granting an Associates degree. 


At the time of closure, newspapers showed that Madison had struggled with enrollment for a number of years.  To attract students, the school determined to broaden its programs and become a four-year college under the name Madison College.  But enrollment, which had averaged 350, dropped to 110, so the school did not open in fall 1998.


Madison College had no dormitories, so social and extra-curricular activities may have been limited.  However, the Wisconsin Historical Society has photos from a 1949 spring formal. 





Bacon Mercantile College of Cincinnati established a branch in Madison in 1856.  By 1876 it had taken the name Northwestern Business College and School of Shorthand and Typewriting,  under the direction of President R. G. Deming.  It appears in Steiger’s Educational Directory for 1878 as Northwestern Business College: Institute of Penmanship, and Telegraphy; Classical, Scientific and Musical Academy.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attended Madison Business College.  Photo by Sean Hurt

Bricks and Mortar

In “one of the most beautiful cities on the face of the earth” Northwestern Business College occupied the third and fourth floors of the Atwood Block at the corner of Carroll and Main streets in the downtown area.  Classroom space included both a bank and a telegraph office.  College windows gave a view of Lake Mendota to the north and Lake Monona to the south.


By the 1950’s the school occupied a two-story brick building at 215 West Washington Street—again in the downtown area.  In 1980 M.B.C. moved to  a 22-year-old elementary school building at 1110 Spring Harbor Drive, a few blocks from downtown.  In 1994 the school moved to 760 E. Verona Avenue in suburban Verona.  That building is now Birchwood Court, a senior  living facility.

Spring Harbor Middle School building was home to Madison Business College between 1980 and 1994.,+Madison,+WI+53705/@43.0806622."


            Team name: Storm


When Madison Junior College of Business determined to become a four-year school, it also made plans to add a football program.  A new coach and athletic director began to recruit a squad.  Through word-of-mouth they assembled a squad of 80--55 of whom actually began practice; more attrition reduced the team to 29 players.  The Storm played three games before classes began.  A 30-0 loss to Concordia-St. Paul was followed by a 63-0 loss to Ohio Northern—a game in which the Storm were held to zero total yards.  On the way to a 74-6 home loss to Wesley (Delaware), the Storm scored their only touchdown from a blocked punt.  The college closed before another game could be played.


Newspapers show a baseball loss to Northwestern University in 1905 and a basketball loss to Spenserian Business College in 1950.

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