“The showplace of Wisconsin with its beautiful green lawns, gardens and orchards, stables and other buildings, and miles of stone fences.” That’s how one contemporary newspaper described Stonefield, the 2,000-acre country estate of Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin’s first governor.
Dewey began to build his dream home after completing his second term. This home would provide material testimony to his years of business and political success. The three-story Gothic Revival home was completed in 1868 and was the centerpiece of his 2,000-acre estate. It overlooked pastures and meadowlands, fruit orchards and a vineyard, and, in the distance, the Mississippi River.
In 1873 the home burned to the foundations, leaving only the brick walls standing. In 1879 General Walter Cass Newberry bought the ruins of the house and 40 acres of land. He worked the farm for several years. In the early 1890s he began building a summer residence on the original foundations. The Newberry house was much more modest, without the tall, narrow gables and ornate detail of the original mansion.
The Newberry family sold the house in 1896. A succession of owners maintained it until 1936 when the state purchased the land and buildings.