Situated on a hill above the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, this was the house of John and Juliette Kinzie, the latter an author of fictional and true accounts of frontier life, based on her experiences at Fort Winnebago and other places in the Old Northwest. Her most popular book was Wau-Bun, the “Early Day” in the Northwest (1856). John, a former fur trader who spoke the Ho-Chunk language fluently, served as Indian agent to the Ho-Chunks (then called Winnebagos). Eight months after moving into this house, however, he resigned his post and left for Chicago, protesting increased responsibilities for too little pay.
When completed in 1832, this house seemed almost palatial. The Kinzies had spent more than two years on Agency Hill living in crude log structures, since the threat of an expanding Black Hawk War had delayed construction of more comfortable accommodations. John Kinzie supervised the construction of the two-story house with its one-and-a-half-story kitchen wing at the rear. Framed with heavy timbers, the house’s walls are brick and covered with the original siding of painted clapboards. Although the house is simple in design, it has an imposing front-gabled roof, shuttered windows, and pedimented Greek Revival entrance porches on two sides. In the 1930s, the Wisconsin chapter of the Colonial Dames of America restored the building as a historical museum.