Romanesque Revival style administration building and cell blocks anchoring a large complex
"The landscaped grounds in front of the reformatory are an important landscape feature of the overall design of the reformatory. They were landscape architect-designed in a popular style of the period. The naturalistic plan features curvilinear walks, a circular drive and mature trees including white oaks, shagbark hickories and other large ornamental species. The areas adjacent to the buildings are planted with newer shrubbery and grass...
"...The Wisconsin State Reformatory is being nominated under Criterion A at the state level for its historic significance as the first state-sponsored prison reformatory in Wisconsin. The historic uses of the various buildings reflect progressive ideologies in the treatment and subsequent rehabilitation of first time offenders at the reformatory. The Wisconsin Cultural Resource Management Plan expresses the need to identify and evaluate state institutional facilities. The nine contributing buildings and one contributing structure represent the reformatory's historic period 1898-1939, which was chosen to include the date of the earliest extant construction on the site (North Cell House) and continuing to 50 years prior to the present date. The 1939 end-date reflects the continued historical use of the reformatory as a criminal rehabilitation center.
"The Administration Building and the North and South cell houses are architecturally significant under criterion C because they are remarkably intact local examples of the Romanesque Revival style. The buildings are typical of the style in Wisconsin in terms of materials, massing and scale. In addition, the rotunda of the Administration Building is a dramatic and significant interior feature which is also very much intact."
Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form prepared by Jodi Rubin and Diane Schwartz of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, November 7, 1989. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."