A New Entry to Picnic Point

The Lakeshore Nature Preserve Frautschi Center will be a welcoming space for visitors.

Aerial view of Picnic Point .

With a $14.3 million gift, Jerry Frautschi will help build a world-class visitor and education center at an iconic UW–Madison landmark. Jeff Miller

The Lakeshore Nature Preserve has long held a special place in the hearts of Madison philanthropist Jerry Frautschi ’56 and his family. Now, with a $14.3 million gift, Frautschi will help build a world-class visitor and education center at this iconic UW–Madison landmark.

“My family has lived in Madison since the 1800s, and we feel a great sense of responsibility to give back to the city and community that we love,” Frautschi says. “I am pleased that I am able to carry on my family’s tradition of philanthropy and community service and that visitors will have a welcoming gathering place with improved access to the trails that line the lakeshore.”

The Lakeshore Nature Preserve Frautschi Center is planned for the area outside the stone wall at the Picnic Point entrance. This location does not disrupt habitat within the preserve and is designed to increase natural habitat and stormwater filtration.

“We are fortunate to have such beautiful natural spaces on campus for recreation, research, and education,” says UW–Madison chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. “And we are exceptionally fortunate for Jerry and his family’s generosity and their commitment to creating this welcoming, accessible, and sustainable space for our students, employees, and visitors.”

The Frautschi family connection to the preserve began 36 years ago when Jerry and his brother, John, purchased what was known as Second Point along Lake Mendota’s shoreline. The property was in danger of being developed at the time, and the family was committed to preserving natural spaces. The brothers paid $1.5 million for the land and then gifted the property to their father for Christmas in 1988. The Frautschis renamed the land Frautschi Point and donated it to the University of Wisconsin.

Construction on the facility is slated to start in 2025, and the center is scheduled to open in 2026.

Published in the Summer 2024 issue


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