Few people played a more important role in the rise of Wisconsin’s dairy industry than William Dempster Hoard. He served as the governor of Wisconsin for one term (1889–1891), but he made his greatest contribution as a developer and promoter of scientific dairying. In the early 1870s, he was instrumental in founding the Wisconsin Dairyman’s Association, and in 1885, he began publishing Hoard’s Dairyman, which became one of the nation’s foremost agricultural journals. Through its pages, he vigorously promoted modern practices: the cultivation of alfalfa for cattle feed, the construction of silos to preserve hay and other feed crops from weather damage, and the eradication of milk-borne tuberculosis. Hoard’s most active years—1870s to 1910s—were also the years of greatest expansion for Wisconsin’s dairy industry. His legacy lives on in his journal and in Wisconsin’s status as “America’s Dairyland,” a reputation he did much to create. It also lives on in this farm, where he tested many of his ideas and where major innovations in scientific dairying continue to be developed.
Hoard acquired the property, known as Prospect Farm, in 1899. The farmhouse, where the resident manager lived (Hoard himself lived in Fort Atkinson), is a symmetrical Italianate building of 1845. One-story wings flank the two-story core, and a two-story kitchen wing with an attached one-and-a-half-story summer kitchen extends to the rear. Hoard replaced the original flat roofs and parapets with low-pitched hipped roofs. Their overhanging eaves, supported by paired brackets, are in keeping with the original Italianate styling. Brick dentil courses running just below the brackets mark the house’s original cornice line. Hoard also added a one-story veranda across the house’s central block, as well as small porches along the rear, ornamented by Queen Anne spindled friezes.
The farm continues to adapt to modern research needs, so most of its outbuildings have been added or significantly altered since Hoard’s death, but the dairy barn’s broad gabled facade retains much of its original appearance.