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Lorenzo Dow Fargo Free Public Library

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1902, Ferry and Clas. 120 E. Madison St.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

Ferry and Clas’s charming library shows a transition from Gothic Revival to the emerging Tudor Revival. Stonemason L. A. Giles laid locally quarried fieldstone of gray, brown, and russet hues in a random pattern, giving the two-story walls a polychromatic, tapestry-like appearance. Parapeted gables at the end walls and the central pavilion lend a sense of massiveness. An array of gabled wall dormers and cross gables animates the facade, and a gabled canopy shelters the arched main entrance. The curved and cusped bargeboards along the canopy are particularly exuberant, with their tangles of leaves and berries carved in wood. Crowning the roof, a delicately proportioned belvedere tapers into an attenuated spire (a replica of the original, which was destroyed by fire in 1981) with a flared base and gablet ventilators. On the interior, only the heavy-beamed ceilings remain from the original construction.

Fargo, the building’s namesake, arrived from upstate New York in 1840 and established a gristmill, a foundry, a store, a bank, a creamery, and a hotel—indeed, nearly every business in town. His generosity financed this library.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Lorenzo Dow Fargo Free Public Library", [Lake Mills, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 249-249.

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