MISS MADISON Archives
In the early 19th century, the first American ice yacht designers tested their ideas near Poughkeepsie, New York, giving rise to the Hudson River style of Stern-Steerer iceboat. Eighty years later, William Bernard, owner of a boat livery on Gorham Street on Lake Mendota refined the Hudson River design and named it after the city where he had grown up.
Many Madison-style iceboats came out of the Bernard Boathouse, winning prestigious ice yachting titles such as the Hearst, Stuart, and Northwest. Eventually, the Hudson River style became more popular, and William and his son, Carl, built the last Madison-style iceboat in 1927, naming her MISS MADISON. MISS MADISON actively raced with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club. She also competed in the Northwest Regatta and for a famed trophy donated by newspaperman Randolph Hearst. Newspaper accounts and captions from the Bernard scrapbooks mention her skippers as Carl Bernard, Herb Teztlaff, and William Van Keulen. Carl Bernard stated that MISS MADISON “was the best hull ever built” in an interview on tape in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives.
The Bleck family of Monona, WI, bought her sometime between 1940 and the 1980s. Mari Ann Lichtfeld purchased her from the Blecks to surprise her husband, Richard Lichtfeld. Lichtfeld strived to keep her in period condition, which is unusual because most iceboat owners refashion vintage crafts with modern hardware. Lichtfeld and his kids would play hooky from work and school to take advantage of a perfect ice-sailing day on Lake Monona.
MISS MADISON is one of the best-preserved Madison- style ice yachts in existence, thanks to the efforts of her late owner, Richard Lichtfeld.
Mari Ann Lichtfeld donated MISS MADISON to the Iceboat Foundation this week. She’s now safely stored indoors, like she was at the Lichtfeld shop, with MARY B. Thanks to the Lichtfeld family for donating this piece of history.