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National or State Registers Record

618 Second Street

National or State Register of Historic Places
618 Second Street | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Chalet of the Golden Fleece
Reference Number:15000551
Location (Address):618 Second Street
City/Village:New Glarus
Chalet of the Golden Fleece
618 Second Street, New Glarus, Green County, WI
Date of Construction: 1937-38
Architect: J. Jacob Rieder

The Chalet of the Golden Fleece is an authentic Swiss Bernese mountain chalet. Designed by Swiss-born, New Glarus architect J. Jacob Rieder, the house reproduces the stylistic and decorative features of chalets erected in the German-speaking regions of the Swiss Alps, particularly in the canton of Bern, since the eighteenth century. Of particular note are the wooden board exterior, notched at the corners; the wrap-around balcony, its balustrade embellished with lace-like cut-outs; the casement windows with round, leaded-glass panes, accented with plank shutters and cut-out flower boxes; the roofs weighted down rocks, held in place by boards, which traditionally kept the alpine winds from blowing off the roof or its slates; a plastered chimney with a gabled roof; and horizontal bands of ornamentation in the gable ends, including German inscriptions. These inscriptions welcome visitors and remind them that life is short, and you can’t take anything with you when you die. On the interior, the dining room embodies Swiss chalet design, with pine paneling in alternating light and dark shades covering the walls, as well as the ceiling, where the panels are square and trapezoidal. In opposite corners is a built-in buffet, which Rieder carved with herringbone patterns and fitted into the elaborate ceiling molding, and a tall, “Nuremberg” stove.

The Chalet of the Golden Fleece was built for Edwin P. Barlow. Barlow, whose mother was a Swiss New Glarner, was the founder and guiding spirit of the Wilhelm Tell pageant, which has been performed in New Glarus every Labor Day weekend since 1938. The centerpiece of the pageant is Friedrich Schiller’s 1804 play, Wilhelm Tell, the tale of the legendary Swiss national hero and expert cross-bow marksman, who shot an arrow off his son’s head, and helped Switzerland gain its independence. The play was performed in German until 2010. The pageant also showcases other aspects of Swiss tradition, with authentic costumes, folk-dances, alpine horn and accordion music, and yodeling. The success of the Wilhelm Tell pageant, in which many local townspeople participated, bolstered New Glarner pride in Swiss heritage, inspiring additional efforts to promote Swiss culture, and leading to the development of “America’s Little Switzerland” as a tourist destination. Today the community has a distinctly Swiss appearance. Barlow gave the house and all its contents, including his extensive collection of Swiss antiques and furniture, to the Village of New Glarus to serve as a museum of Swiss culture. The Chalet is open by appointment from May through September.

Period of Significance:1938
Period of Significance:1938-1946
Area of Significance:Architecture
Area of Significance:Ethnic Heritage/European
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Applicable Criteria:Person
Historic Use:Domestic: Single Dwelling
Architectural Style:Other
Resource Type:Building
Architect:Rieder, J. Jacob
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
National Register Listing Date:08/24/2015
State Register Listing Date:02/27/2015
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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