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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Smith House (Mead & Hunt photo, 1997)

Smith House-gable detail (Mead & Hunt photo, 1997)

Smith House-porch detail (Mead & Hunt photo, 1997)

Adam and Mary Smith House
Smith's Crossing and Leopold Way, Sun Prairie, Dane County
Architect: Unknown
Date of construction: 1872

Construction work on Wisconsin's first state capitol attracted pioneer carpenter Adam Smith to Madison in 1839. Sensing the commercial potential of a near Madison location, Smith changed careers and built the Brook Cottage Tavern several years later on a stage coach route just south of Sun Prairie. Adam and his wife Mary operated and lived at the tavern, which became a popular local meeting place. The Smiths were also successful farmers and played an active role in local politics and culture. Adam helped lay out the first township roads, served on the first town board, was postmaster, and served as an elected official, including a term in the State Assembly.

After closing their tavern, the Smiths built an elaborate Italianate house in 1872. As a testimony to their success as pioneering entrepreneurs, the Smiths' solid red brick showplace was ornamented with decorative limestone window hoods, shapely scrolled brackets, and intricate wooden porches. On the interior, luxurious touches like pocket doors, plaster ceiling medallions and a marble fireplace added richness. Their new home became the centerpiece of their farming operation, which totaled 480 acres.

After the Smiths sold the farm in 1881, the house passed through a series of owners before becoming apartments about 1970. The home may have been demolished for road improvements on the nearby US Highway 151 without the cooperative efforts of the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Negotiations under Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act led to a successful offer by Veridian Homes to acquire the house and relocate it as a centerpiece of their nearby housing development. Additional documentation relating to the move was approved September 14, 2006.

The house is privately owned; please respect the privacy rights of its owners.

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