GRAND OPENNING MAY 24-25, 2014
You are invited to come to the Grand Openning of the Historic Larson House at 6003 Exchange Street, McFarland WI 53558, on either Saturday, May 24 or Sunday, May 25, 2014, from 1:30 to 3:30 PM. Join us as we celebrate the restoration of this grand old house, the history of those who built and lived in it, and those being honored in each of the rooms and the outdoor gardens.
LARSON HOUSE TOURS
For a tour of the Larson House by appointment, contact Jane Licht at 608-838-8178. Jane will be glad to accomodate you and your friends and family who wish to see the house.
SNEAK PEEK OPEN HOUSE
Thanks to all who helped present our open house on Saturday, September 28 and on Sunday, Septembeer 29. More than 250 visitors attended. They enjoyed the tours and seeing the progress as 75% of the house has been restored and furnished thanks to the generosity of this community. Thanks to professional photographer Sue Vick Finley for taking these photos on Saturday. You Tube Update in August, 2013.
THE HISTORIC LARSON HOUSE
The Larson House was an elegant Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1898 and purchased by John Larson in 1911. The Larson family lived in it for 80 years. It stood empty and neglected for the past 20 years. The McFarland Historical Society purchased it in February of 2012 and decided to restore it to its former glory. A restoration plan was approved, the old knob and tube wiring was replaced with a safe electrical system, the badly damaged siding on the back and Bashford Street sides was replaced and painted, and the trim and gables were scraped and painted. A new side porch was built using the original porch columns, spandrels, and balusters. Tree service, landscaping, plumbing work, concrete for the sidewalks and a new furnace were donated by local businesses. Countless volunteers from the community have helped with cleanup and restoration projects. See the video about the progress as of November, 2012. You Tube Update in August, 2013.
In 2013, work inside the house was emphasized. The rooms received new plaster, paint and the hardword floors on the first level were sanded and varnished. After a cold spring, work on the front porch began in ernest. New siding was put on the front and south sides of the house. The original porch columns and balusters for the railings were installed on the front porch. Eventually, most of the rooms were completed and furnished with donated artifacts. The house has been decorated in a style appropriate to around 1920 when electricity first came to McFarland, and the original chandeliers glow brightly once again. Thanks to our skilled contractors and hard-working volunteers, and to those serving on the various Larson House committees.
The Larson House will become a house museum dedicated to the celebration of local history and a valuable resource for our citizens today and in future years. It will be available for school groups and other tours, small social gatherings, concerts, art shows and perhaps even a Victorian garden party or the like. Rooms are being named with donations of $10,000 to honor families with deep roots in McFarland history; their histories as well as the history of the Larson family are preserved. Only one room and the two porches are still available for naming. Here is the impressive list of donors and those being honored.
How can you help?
1. Buy a Board to honor your family, friends, or in memory of loved ones. The donor’s name and those being honored or remembered will be posted inside the house. We want everyone to “own” part of this wonderful old structure. We need to rebuild the front porch and add new siding to the front and south sides of the house. Boards can be purchased online for a cost of only $25 per board until December 31, 2013. Over 300 families and individuals have purchased boards.
2. Donate your time to help restore, renovate, clean and decorate. Let Larson House Planning Chair Jane Licht know of your interest and talents. 838-8178 or firstname.lastname@example.org
HISTORY OF THE LARSON HOUSE
This landmark structure, known as the “Larson House” was owned by Mr. E. N. Edwards for only a couple years and then sold to Tollef Olson Foshein in 1901. Tollef's wife Ingebor died in 1903 and the next year he moved to Stoughton to live with a daughter. He died in 1910. As part of his estate, the house was sold to John Larson in 1911, and it has been in his family ever since, for 100 years.
John was a very successful business man and well-respected in the community. His economic rise began when he bought lake shore property from the Knickerbocker Ice Company in 1900. He built the popular Larson’s Beach Resort, constructed cottages, built piers and even purchased six row boats that were pointed on both ends. People could rent his cottages or purchase them on 60-foot wide lots to use as summer homes.
When John’s wife Julia died young, daughter Bertha came to live in and run the household. After Bertha's sister Tonetta retired she came back to McFarland and lived with Bertha. Some McFarland residents such as Glenn and Meg Nielsen, and Wes and Jane Licht remember Christmas caroling for the elderly sisters who invited them in and served popcorn. Back then, the Victorian home was immaculate and little changed from when their father had owned it.