- Where to Go
- The Best of Milwaukee and Madison
- The Best Wisconsin Weekends
- A Perfect Week in Door County
- Wisconsin for Recreationists
- Rustic Road Tripping
- Made in Milwaukee
- Madison Weekend
- Sports: The Packers and Beyond
- Out on the Town in Milwaukee
- Say Cheese!
- Four Days in the Mad City
- A Wisconsin Family Road Trip
- Wisconsin’s Best Brews
A mere 15-minute drive west of downtown Milwaukee, close to Waukesha, brings you to “Broadway’s Retreat” in the Midwest—Ten Chimneys (S43 W31575 Depot Rd., Genesee Depot, 262/968-4161, www.tenchimneys.org), the erstwhile home of the Great White Way’s legendary Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine. From its creation as a haven for artists in the 1920s, it welcomed legions of actors, writers, singers, and film stars, all seeking spiritual rejuvenation in a bucolic retreat.
Having fallen into disrepair, it was nearly razed before an extraordinary renovation effort saved it. The 2003 reopening gave the public a jaw-dropping view of an entirely unknown piece of U.S. cultural history. Inside, the exquisite detailing and furnishings are almost an afterthought, so caught up are visitors by mementos sent to Fontaine and Lunt from Helen Hayes, Noel Coward, and Charlie Chaplin, among others.
The sublime 18-room main house sits perched above 60 acres of rolling moraine topography; nearby are a “quaint” eight-room cottage and Swedish-style log cabin, and a dozen other buildings. Not simply a memorial to a bygone era, Ten Chimneys is a living artists’ retreat again—sponsoring workshops, collaborations, teacher- training programs, and public classes.
Tours are available, but don’t count on an impromptu visit; officially it’s open to the public 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday May 1– October 31, but if a special event is taking place you may not get in. The place is also pricey: $35 for a full estate tour, $30 for a main house tour only. Twilight tours are available Friday evenings and it has awesome dinner packages.
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition