How to Identify a Vintage Trachte Building

Did you know that Trachte buildings were first produced in Madison, Wisconsin over 100 years ago? In 1919, Trachte started manufacturing steel buildings for use as garages, gas stations, restaurants, and even airplane hangars. Many of the original barrel-roof designs can still be spotted around the Madison area.  We’re often asked, “How do you know if it’s a Trachte building?” 

There are several distinct characteristics of a vintage Trachte building.  Here’s how to tell:

  • Trachte steel buildings have a barrel-vaulted roof, unlike the “Quonset Hut,” which is made of corrugated steel shaped into a semi-circle.
  • Vintage Trachte buildings have steel ribbed siding, evenly spaced at 24” or 26”, located on the sides of the building.
  • Horizonal Siding was used from 1919 until approximately 1960, located on the back of buildings.
  • Doors were typically made of steel, included a stamped rectangular pattern, and “Trachte Bros. Company, Madison”  in stamped lettering.
  • Location – since Trachte buildings could be shipped via rail, they were often installed behind warehouses and along service roads.  You can find them locally as part of building façades and in residential areas, especially on the east side of Madison.
Isthmus, December 5, 1986