Stagecoach drivers and mail carriers once welcomed the sight of this tavern on the old Madison-Monroe road leading to southwestern Wisconsin’s lead-mining district. The road passed just to the northwest of the house. The tavern was part of a gentleman’s farm belonging to Charles Morgan beside a large spring, now a duck pond draining into Lake Wingra. Around 1860, James W. Gorham turned it into Gorham’s Hotel, which became a favorite watering hole for Civil War soldiers based at Camp Randall. In 1895, Gorham closed the hotel and made the building his private residence.
The original front is now the rear of the building. Because the two-story inn is on a sloping site, the basement level was exposed, creating the illusion of a three-story building on that side. A separate entrance to the basement later provided access to the taproom. Morgan made the reddish-pink bricks, using clay from the back slope of the property. He laid the bricks three layers thick at the first floor and two layers thick at the second and third stories, fashioning a handsome building in the popular Greek Revival style. The side-gabled roof has cornice returns at the gable ends, and stone lintels are above the windows. In the 1920s, Professor James G. Dickson, a well-known plant pathologist, purchased the house and reoriented it to the newly built Nakoma Road by replacing an old porch with the present three-story verandah of square columns and geometric railings.