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If you want to experience Victorian life during the 19th century then you must visit the estate of one of the most prosperous families of Wisconsin. Villa Louis was the country home for the famous Dousman Family and this estate sits pretty on the banks of the Mississippi River. The first thing you will see is this:
The elevated visitor center is where you get the tickets and can peruse the shop. I was delighted to find a charm for Miss Sarah’s bracelet for under $5! It is elevated due to the repeated flooding of the area. The estate has undergone full and painstaking authentic renovation and today it has been restored to its splendor of the 1890s. Conducted tours are arranged on a daily basis wherein the guides wear dress of that period and they help you to explore the everyday life of the Dousman Family.
We started in the office – and were instantly in love with the period furniture. It only got better from there!
The Villa Louis estate has undergone full and painstaking authentic renovation and today it has been restored to its splendor of the 1890s. Conducted tours are arranged on a daily basis wherein the guides wear dress of that period and they help you to explore the everyday life of the Dousman Family. It was so terribly hot when we went, I was glad to see our guide in normal clothes instead of the layers of a period costume.
A trip to Villa Louis will take you back in time and leave you with memories of a lifetime. When you walk through the doors of the mansion you actually step into the life of the most prosperous families of Wisconsin. The estate is, no doubt, huge and you can enjoy the leisurely duck ponds and the lush green heirloom gardens that make up the Victorian estate of the Dousman Family. We even loved the artesian wells, which are still safe to drink from!
You can take a short stroll to view the traces of the old river town and also view the remains of Fort Crawford. The flower gardens are stunning to look at and do check out the heirloom kitchen garden and understand how they enjoyed their leisure time. Even billiards was a game both sexes enjoyed! It was a great vacation from the normal busy life of the rich and famous.
The servants of Villa Louis had their own ‘little world’ in the estate and it is a novel experience to see and understand how they lived and how they kept the palatial family estate running. When you undertake the mansion tour you will be taken to the kitchens, outbuildings and the quarters which were designed and used exclusively by the servants. There was a separate Servants table and, of course, washrooms for the servants of the house. They were separate but not equal. You can see from the servant bedroom the lack of ammenities.
The head butler/manservant had it the best. Just look at his room:
The Fur Trade Museum would be your next stop but you must be lucky to see it. We were not as the museum was closed temporarily for renovation work. If the area is open to the public during your visit you can view the replica of the Fur Trade Store and also check out the British military uniform.
The Final stop should be the mansion itself. The museum has been restored to the splendor of the 1890s and you will be amazed to see the wonderful collection of the original family furnishings. Once you are here you can check out the Front Hall, the Veranda, the Master Bedroom, the Parlor, the Villas Louis kitchen, the dining room, the Upstairs Hall and a bust of the man himself, Louis Dousman.
The Admission charges to the estate include admission to the Fur trade Museum. A number of special events are held on the grounds of the estate from time to time such as Carriage Classic, Breakfast in the Victorian Kitchen and Carriage Classic among others. Keep an eye on their website for more details.
You should also know that the grounds are authentic with inlaid stone and brick walkways. Good walking shoes are a suggestion as we saw a woman tried to navigate in her heels. I thought she was going to break an ankle.
There really is so much to see that you need to go there yourself! Make sure you try the water! Learn more HERE