In late October and early November, I was back in Lake Mills, striving to fulfill a plethora of municipal and legal requirements to get my Aunt Addie’s body exhumed, so that we might learn more about her suspicious death.
During my stay in Lake Mills, I stayed at the Fargo Mansion Inn. In my career as an architectural historian, I’ve seen plenty of old houses, but the Fargo Mansion is in a class by itself. Tom Boycks and Barry Luce are the perfect hosts, and every evening, I’d plop down on the couch beside Tom or Barry while they were trying to watch their favorite shows and start chattering away. They were always incredibly gracious, and listened patiently to all my little stories. One evening, they showed me several vintage photos of the mansion, dating back to Aunt Addie’s time. And I also had several photos of my own, found amongst my late father’s belongings.
I thought it’d be fun to put all these photos together, so that folks might see where Addie Hoyt Fargo lived during her brief marriage (1896-1901) to Enoch J. Fargo.
As I said in the beginning, regardless of where you live, the Fargo Mansion Inn is worth the trip. Since 1985, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a kajillion dollars) into this old house, and they’ve done a first-class job restoring the 7,500-square foot manse to its original splendor. If visiting this house is not on your “bucket list,” it certainly should be. To make a reservation, click here.
Take a look at Addie’s House, as it would have appeared in Addie’s time.
Addie sent this photo to her family in Denver, Colorado. Her sister Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived in Denver with her husband Wilbur, and their two children. Addie was obviously very proud of her home, and wanted to let her big sister know, she finally had a home of her own.
Another view of the Fargo Manse, probably post-1910.
Addie is on the lower left, with Enoch above her. Elsie and Mattie (sisters) are on the right.
This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.
Close-up of that amazing bed!
From the staircase, looking out toward the front parlor.
This "electrolier" (both electric and gas) is adorned with magnolia leaves.
The statuette is also adorned with Magnolia leaves.
I believe this is taken from the main parlor, looking into "The Man Cave," or the den.
Close up of the fretwork, trim and heavy curtain over the doorway.
I just love these chairs!
Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.
A picture from one of the parlors, looking toward the front door and grand staircase.
Close-up of that same shot shows a guitar under the window. Note the newel post on the right.
Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time. Elsie is to the right and out of frame in this shot.
Same shot, sans pretty people. I guess that piano stool had a removable back?
This is the front parlor (nearest the front door) looking into the room (on the far right) that adjoins the dining room.
And this is also a favorite photo. That's a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, "Our Lady With the Light" is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.
Enoch invented a central vacuum system, and he's shown here "getting his suit cleaned" by one of the servants. This photo appeared in a manual on the central vacuum system that Tom and Barry found. It also shows great detail of the home's interior. This would have been a little after Addie's time, in the early 1910s.
Another photo of Enoch's central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.
Tom and Barry will have to tell me which room this is, because I'm lost!
Tom and Barry have done a phenomenal job of restoring this grand old mansion. They told me that this house was slated for demolition when they purchased it (in1985) and began their life-long labor of restoration. It's an ongoing project, but their love of this house shines through in each and every faithfully restored nook and cranny.
One of the lone original items that had not been stripped from the Fargo Mansion prior to Tom and Barry's purchase was this semi-circular settee in the front tower.
This is one of my favorite pictures, for it captures the workmanship of the original structure, and the painstaking work that had to be done in the restoration.
A view of the parlor today.
I shudder to think that this incredible house nearly ended up as another memory in another small town. Were it not for Tom and Barry, this house would be another pile of forgotten construction debris at the local landfill.
To learn more about Addie, click here.
To learn more about old houses, click here.
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