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S42 W31610 Depot Rd. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

S42 W31610 Depot Rd.

National or State Register of Historic Places
S42 W31610 Depot Rd. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Ten Chimneys
Reference Number:98000076
Location (Address):S42 W31610 Depot Rd.
Ten Chimneys
Depot Road, Town of Genesee, Waukesha County
Architects: Charles Dornbusch; Eschweiler & Eschweiler
Dates of construction: 1914-1948

Acting legends Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt built Ten Chimneys as their summer home. Lunt purchased the property in Genessee Depot in 1913 and began work on the main house in 1914. After the couple married in 1922, they transformed the property into a country estate, expanding the house and adding outbuildings. In the 1930s, Broadway set designer Claggett Wilson elaborately decorated the house with wallpaper cutouts and extensive floor to ceiling mural work.

The Lunts either designed or decorated all of the buildings on the property to evoke their Scandinavian and English ancenstry. The board and batten pool house recalls Swedish town houses, while traditional Scandinavian log farm buildings inspired the studio and stable. The interiors are theatrical in their décor. In addition to Wilson's elaborate murals in the main house, Alfred Lunt decorated the cottage with Swedish folk murals and decorations.

Fontanne and Lunt were America's most famous theatrical couple; they performed together in over 40 Broadway plays, and several movies and television programs. Many of the leading actors and playwrights of the mid-twentieth century, such as Noel Coward, Helen Hayes, Lawrence Olivier, and Vivian Leigh, were friends of the Lunts and stayed at Ten Chimneys. There they wrote, rehearsed, and relaxed in a bucolic setting that provided a refuge from the tension and strain of their theatrical work.

When Ten Chimneys was threatened by demolition and dissolution of its contents, the Ten Chimneys Foundation was formed to purchase, restore, and open Ten Chimneys to the public. After a painstaking restoration Ten Chimneys is now open for tours.

Period of Significance:1900-1924
Period of Significance:1925-1949
Area of Significance:Architecture
Area of Significance:Performing Arts
Applicable Criteria:Person
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Landscape: Garden
Historic Use:Domestic: Single Dwelling
Architectural Style:Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
Resource Type:Building
Architect:Dornbusch, Charles
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
Historic Status:National Historic Landmark Status Granted
National Historic Landmark Listing Date:Thu Jul 31 00:00:00 UTC 2003
National Register Listing Date:02/23/1998
State Register Listing Date:07/28/1996
Number of Contributing Buildings:7
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:2
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:2
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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