Celebrating the most spectacular and most expensive home sold in Wisconsin in 2011 - Selling agent Lisa Bear, ReMAX (edit/delete)
From the homes hilltop perch, the view of Oconomowoc Lake is dazzling. Residents can enjoy both sunrise and sunset from inside the house, which is situated on 10 acres of land with 1,300 feet of lake frontage and overlooks a lush private pond with wooded island.
The mansion and property are home to historic treasures that have survived for over a century thanks to the current owners commitment to preserving the unique character of the estate. In 1964, executors for the estate of the previous owner, Bottle Baron Abraham David Braun, were considering selling the home to a land developer. The present owners bid against the property developer and promised to honor Brauns wish to maintain the homes original character. Happily, their offer was accepted.
The mansion features 8 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half bathrooms, and 12 fireplaces. Originally christened Edgewood, the home was built by American Tobacco Corporation tycoon Levi Cushman Merrick in 1882. According to the present owner, during late 19th century Merrick was host to many visitors at Edgewood, including Milwaukees Beer Barons and other family friends who made the trip from Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Louis. Guests who managed the two day horse and buggy ride from Milwaukee kept their horses in a green stucco and wood carriage house situated just off of the main residence, still standing today alongside the matching caretakers house.
Inside the sunny octagonal turret, stained glass windows radiate a colorful glow upon the delicately-hued sea foam green sitting room a 30 year old addition true to the homes original Victorian-style. Here the owner shared the homes illustrious history as he sat beside the Italian marble fireplace transferred directly from Al McGuires office in the Plankinton Mansion.
The original home built by Merrick in 1882 was a house of twenty gables, augmented during the construction of an addition in 1981. The home remains Queen Anne Victorian-style. The owner explained that the additions preserved details such as the 19th century metal fixtures, which he rescued from his former antique shop. The woodwork and ornamentation in the addition were crafted to period style specification by Oconomowocs World of Wood.
A scallop seashell becomes a central motif in this room, one example of the homes ornate styling. It is centered within a sculpted decorative frieze accented by wall-to-ceiling transitions, a detail also seen in other rooms of the mansion. The frieze highlighted by vine and medallion detailed bas relief.
The owner described one of many historical events which were attractions for guests during summertime on Oconomowoc Lake. Merrick bought 40 ponies in 1887 for $75 each, rescuing them from English and Welsh coal mining operations. He then began to host Oconomowoc Lakes famous pony races. Tickets for the races were sold from a booth right on the property, where people gathered beside a racing field in summer to try and win a nice purse by betting on wining horses. The 400 square yard field used for these races remains today, and is good host to soccer and football games or an ideal spot to practice your golf swing.
Most of the rooms are ornately decorated with a High Victorian color palette that includes green, maroon, gold, blue, and black. And though elaborate in their design, the rooms are comfortable for the owner to feel at home while sitting in them with family, children and grand children, and guests. Here exquisite architecture coexists comfortably with the necessities of daily living. Being surrounded by reminders of Milwaukees and Victorian Americas grand history just inspires those who live here to connect to the past while living in the present.
The kitchen on the ground floor is spacious, with adjoining walk-in pantry and built-in china cabinet with glass doors. Just opposite the pantry on the other side of the kitchen is an alcove with washer and dryer, making this a convenient and practical work area. Continuing down the hall from the kitchen, one finds the office featuring cherry wood-paneled walls, maple hardwood floors, and high ceilings accented by square beams.
A bank of windows at the back of the office is framed by geometric leaf patterns carved into cherry-stained wood. The windows provide both bright light and an expansive view of the backyard, lake and trees. The sunlight casts a warm glow across the room through a golden yellow, white and red stained glass window set just below the large wooden ceiling beams.
In the adjacent room, a white wood dado below pastel wallpaper is intersected by intricately crafted, slender vertical columns rising toward the ceiling. The white columns and walls contrast dark crimson drapery. A fireplace with white fire-surround matches the woodwork and provides a mantel where delicate antique vases are displayed.
Entering the dining room, gentle golden wallpaper compliments the built-in wood china cabinet. Matching wood dado and sculpted wood door frames accent the white ceiling with pronounced bas relief. Through the doorway, a music room with sea foam green painted walls is accented with white floor-to-ceiling bas relief decorated with raised medallions. A white framed window provides ample light to practice the piano. Through the hallway on the west end of the mansion are the living and family rooms. The family room is surrounded by a large wrap-around window with a full view of the lake. A fireplace sits prominently on the west end of the room. It was constructed with floor-to-ceiling brickwork, much of it rescued from bricks that paved the streets of Milwaukee, which supports an antique wooden mantel.
The warm, earth toned living room features an alternating hardwood floor crafted with strips of black walnut and maple, which is the same flooring found in the music room. A wooden stairway with matching dado and carved railing leading to the second floor descends just to the right of the entrance into the family room.
Upstairs, the master bedroom is the epitome of Victorian elegance and attention to detail. A large green and pink pastel bas relief with painted flowers adorns the wall separating the mans and womans bathrooms. Inside the womans bathroom, a sauna is surrounded by dark blue Sherle Wagner tiles decorated with images of white and green lily pads. The scallop shell motif reappears in the form of a white Sherle Wagner pedestal and sink. The master bedroom features a large fireplace with tile fire-surround and wood frame. A stained glass window decorated with floral patterns overlooks the bright window and powder blue walls of the sitting room.
Down the hall from the master bedroom, a guest room features white woodwork surrounding a large window. Maroon wallpaper with a repeating organic design motif covers the room which opens onto the rooftop deck.
One can imagine Merricks formally clad summer guests socializing and enjoying the lake view from the deck reached through the side of this room. Guests from this imagined past might have strolled on the trail surrounding the private pond or escaped the heat of the summer visiting in the 4,000-sq.-ft. boathouse, built in 1913 by Merricks daughter Zella. The two-story boathouse features a gently sloping green tiled Spanish-style roof that resembles a Chinese pagoda.
At this boathouse, Merricks steamboat would have docked. It was originally employed to carry mail and groceries to residents on the lake, as well as to take passengers on sightseeing tours. The spacious interior is great place to host parties and family gatherings, complete with mens and womans bath and changing rooms. And it can still hold the owners boat in a solid, stylish setting.
Zella continued her additions to the estate. In 1917 she had a 45 foot concrete bridge built spanning the lagoon. Nature lovers will cherish a walk through the peaceful scenery, over the bridge, and on the trail surrounding the pond where a heron guards its perch and a hawk darts from the ponds wooded island.
The propertys native cedar trees have been supplemented by Norway pine and tower above a childrens clubhouse and sandbox just behind the main house. These trees add richness to the pastoral views from the racing field and the gentle serenity of the walking trail, adding to the solace one experiences in this historic setting.
Information and Article by EY Magazine
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