City Life

Do you know this fact about the terrace chairs?

Can you name the three trademarked colors?

QUICK — can you name the three colors of the Wisconsin Union’s iconic terrace chairs?

If you said orange, yellow and green, you’re only partially correct. In 1981, Wisco Industries Inc. in Oregon, Wisconsin, was commissioned to create the sunburst chairs. At that time, the three colors were named John Deere green, Allis Chalmers orange and sunshine yellow. The John Deere, Allis Chalmers (both farm equipment manufacturers) and sunshine colors are an ode to Wisconsin’s farming traditions, but they also represent the fall, summer and spring seasons when the chairs can be found on the terrace along Lake Mendota.

The lake also inspired a limited-edition chair color in 2012 — “Mendota Blue” chairs were on the terrace for a single season to raise awareness and donations for the union’s renovation project, which was completed in 2017. The three signature colors were trademarked in 1988, so you won’t find chairs painted in those three colors anywhere else in the world. Click here for a behind-the-scenes look at how the terrace chairs are made.

This article is part of the April cover story "50 Things That Give Madison Color." Click here for the full story.

Below are some photos of terrace chairs we can't get enough of:





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