Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

5923 Exchange St.

National or State Register of Historic Places
5923 Exchange St. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:McFarland House
Reference Number:88002228
Location (Address):5923 Exchange St.
McFarland House
5923 Exchange Street, McFarland, Dane County
Builder: William Hugh McFarland
Date of Construction: 1857

Although the William McFarland built his building in 1857 as a residence, it served as a local center for civic and social events due to its prominent location adjacent to the railroad and next to the business core of McFarland. It was the first home seen while traveling by train into the village and remains a focal point to this day.

William McFarland was a British immigrant who began his career in Wisconsin as a carpenter for the railroad. He worked his way up to construction superintendent. In 1855, the railroad persuaded him to build a depot in a tiny settlement as a station point between Madison and Stoughton. McFarland agreed to build the depot in exchange for a position as a local agent for the railroad. His own home became the first sizable permanent dwelling in the community.

The McFarland House is Greek Revival style in its simplicity. Several trapdoors, which open through the roof, were created for fire safety because the house was so close to the railroad that flying sparks from passing trains threatened to ignite its wood shingle roof. Large gatherings, such as weddings and church socials once took place in the third floor ballroom. The McFarland House also became an unofficial boarding house for tourists, merchants and newly arriving families. The imposing scale of the building was a symbol of the village┬┐s promising future and is a community landmark today.

It now serves as a business and is open during regular hours.

Period of Significance:1857-1908
Area of Significance:Architecture
Area of Significance:Exploration/Settlement
Applicable Criteria:Event
Applicable Criteria:Person
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Domestic: Single Dwelling
Historic Use:Domestic: Hotel
Architectural Style:Greek Revival
Architectural Style:Other
Resource Type:District
Architect:McFarland,William Hugh
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:11/03/1988
State Register Listing Date:01/01/1989
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
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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