History Lesson: The Stark Family

Phil Stark has fond childhood memories of visiting his father, Paul, in the building that’s now home to Madison Community Foundation. Built in 1926 to house the office of The Paul E. Stark Company, now Stark Company Realtors, the historic structure was revitalized and reopened as Austin Place in 2014 by the Block 100 Foundation created by Jerry Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Stark family to support MCF’s move downtown, the new lobby is named The Stark Family Reception area and features signage and historical photos of the Stark legacy.

“The building has always been special to me,” says Phil, who is proud to have the Stark name represented as a tribute to his father’s contributions to Madison.

Just as Paul Stark was deeply involved in community and philanthropy, including the early planning for what would eventually become Madison Community Foundation, his son and grandson have followed in his footsteps.

At MCF, Phil and his wife, Jane, established a Donor Advised Fund that supports communications for the blind and visually impaired.

“Jane was very active as a volunteer braillist for many years,” says Phil Dave and his wife, Marcie, recently established a Donor Advised Fund and plan to grow it to support their favorite causes.

Dave, a member of MCF’s Board of Directors, served on the building search committee and remembers touring the old Stark building for the first time.

“I remember going in there and thinking, this is where we ought to be—not because it was once our family’s building but because the space was right,” says Dave. “The central location was great, it looked out on Overture Center, which MCF supports, the Frautschi family, who owns the building now, are such good supporters of the Community Foundation. I thought for all those reasons, this is where we ought to be.”

And then, when the opportunity arose to participate in donor recognition as MCF’s office space took shape, Dave says the connection to his grandfather resonated with him. “It’s really cool. I’m glad we’re able to do it.”

Dave also says it’s nice to be able to support the new office in the midst of all the excitement surrounding MCF’s 75th Anniversary Year of Giving grants to organizations focused on strengthening natural and cultural assets of the Madison area.

“What’s been remarkable is the way the community has responded to the anniversary,” says Dave. “Each month there’s just another reminder that this is a place where the community foundation makes an impact.”

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