A community is defined as a group of people living together, especially in the context of social values and responsibility. A feeling of fellowship towards others. And, as a result of that fellowship, sharing common interests, attitudes and goals. Over the past 150 years, Madison's northside community has been fostered by the leadership, services and philanthropy of its longest run family owned business - Sherman Plaza, Incorporated.
To fully appreciate the full impact of Sherman Plaza, Inc. on the north side, one must follow its roots back four generations of history. In 1856, Ernest Bruns, a proud German immigrant, developed a 100-acre dairy farm in the soon-to-be dairy capital's soil rich backyard. At this time, the Bruns' family farm was one of only a handful of dairy farms in Madison and supplied much of the city with crisp, refreshing milk. By the late 1800s, the Bruns' farm was the preferred supplier of milk to a majority of the Madison community. In the early 1900s, Ernest Bruns passed his farm on to his son, Ernest August. Ernest August continued the family farm and grew the milk business into one of Madison's premier, fully-vertical milk companies. In 1953, Ernest August handed the farm to his sons, Ernest B. and Richard Bruns, who formed the Bruns Farm Development. Shortly thereafter, the Madison mayor at the time approached Ernest B. and Richard with a need from the community. As a result of the northern city sprawl, the north side was in need of a residential/retail location; and none better than the Bruns Farm Development. Thus, Sherman Plaza Incorporated was born on the corner of Sherman Avenue and Northport Drive. It was at that time that Sherman Plaza's first tenants moved in and some have been there ever since.
In early 2000, Sherman Plaza was handed down to the fourth generation, David Walter Bruns and Donald B. Bruns. Over time, the city's needs shifted and Sherman Plaza evolved to meet those needs. Over the next two decades, with the leadership of President David Walter Bruns, Sherman Plaza transformed through major renovations, bringing the northside a first class Town Center. An emulation of the original Bruns farm, the Northside TownCenter has become the core of the community for gatherings with friends and a solution to anyone's daily needs. This revitalization has given the northside something to be proud of and a place to come together. The Richard V Bruns building is their latest endeavor, bringing a warehouse for storage needs to the area.
Running a successful business is a difficult livelihood, not to mention for 150 years. The Bruns' have had the challenge of evolving with the times and integrating the business with their family and the needs of the community. One significant family trait that has carried over from generation to generation and aided in their success is their philanthropic quality. David Walter Bruns has focused on helping northside kids through serving on the board of First Tee of South Central WI for over 7 years. He was also the recipient of the Dailey Service Award for his extraordinary dedication to community service. The Bruns' family tradition has, and always will be, to give back to the community that has always been there for them. Each generation has vowed to leave their community better than it was when they were brought into it. Although four generations have passed, with the fifth waiting in the wings, Sherman Plaza Incorporated still rings true the foundational values of family and community.