villa louis

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Being American, I have a weakness for Victorian American houses. My favorites are a little off the radar and capture a moment in time. Villa Louis in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin is one of them. The Victorian mansion, constructed in 1870, replaced an earlier house from 1843. The house contains fine examples of Victorian decorative arts. Almost all the furnishings, artworks, china, glass, silver and books originally belonged to the Dousman family.


Hercules Louis Dousman (1800 - 1868) made his fortune as a fur trader, lumberman, land speculator and frontier entrepreneur. In the mid-1840s the Dousman family began developing their estate, Villa Louis. With the help of Milwaukee architect, E. Townsend Mix, they expanded the house in 1870 in the fashionable Italian Villa style.

In 1882, Louis Dousman, inherited his father's estate. As a new country gentleman, Louis and his wife, Nina Sturgis Dousman, constructed stables, barns, a race track and other out buildings. As a horse person, the fact I loved most was that they believed the artesian well water to have a therapeutic qualities in this location which would make Louis' racehorses faster and stronger than all others. Dousman hired a Chicago-based designer from the William Morris Company of London. The result was a reworking of the mansion, paying homage to the British Arts and Crafts Movement.

It is also the place of an annual carriage classic.

Image from Winona Daily News, Hamline, Villa Louis
ArchitectDesign™ said...

I have to admit to loving the houses but hating how dark and cluttered they tend to be. I always want to paint everything white! LOL

Ann said...

You're one of those... haha! I like the original woodwork but for everyday living I would probably change the wallpapers and such.

Aren't you on vacation? What are you doing inside surfing the web instead of outside combing for shells?! :)

Tabitha said...

I always think they look quite spooky from the outside.

I don't like dark woodwork in houses either, well I mean the heavy panelling, lots around here have it and when house hunting I was always straight out the door again whenever i spotted it - we're not allowed to paint it as this is a conservation area.