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Alexander Allyn House

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1885, Edward Townsend Mix. 511 E. Walworth Ave.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

On a manicured lawn facing a wide boulevard, this splendid house flaunts the wealth and refinement of the era’s elite. The two-and-a-half-story, cream brick mansion displays a playful profusion of dormers, gables, porches, and pavilions. The full-width veranda show-cases the Eastlake mode of Queen Anne decoration with such lavish details as the spindle frieze beneath the eaves that evokes the era’s furniture. Above the porch’s projecting central entryway rises a colorful front-gabled balcony with more Eastlake details, and above that springs a side-gabled rooftop belvedere with a pedimented balconet. Cresting crowns the composition. The veranda, balconies, and belvedere faithfully re-create the originals, which were removed in 1950. The house’s sides are almost as showy as the front. The porte-cochere features spindle columns and a paneled gable. Windows of large panes with narrow borders of stained glass lights, a soaring chimney, fish-scale shingles, sunburst motifs, and other ornaments add color and texture.

Visitors enter the house through glazed double doors with a stained glass transom. Inside, carved newel posts and fat-spindled balusters stud the handsome oak staircase. Stencil work, walnut and oak woodwork, parquetry, and other rich wall, ceiling, and floor finishes fill nearly every room. Each formal chamber retains its original fittings, including Eastlake-style dentil and rosette moldings around the pocket doors, and the nine fireplaces have Italian marble fronts ornamented with gold leaf and floral intaglio designs. Besides opulent decoration, the Allyn House also boasted the latest in electrical and mechanical systems: a pulley-powered elevator, hybrid gas-electric “gasolier” lighting, a speaking tube in the upstairs hall for communicating with kitchen servants, and a cold room off the kitchen, which stored ice. All these features survive.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Alexander Allyn House", [Delavan, 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, 187-188.

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