Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
812 WRIGLEY DR | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:The Riviera
Reference Number:28928
Location (Address):812 WRIGLEY DR
City:Lake Geneva
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1932
Survey Date:19852015
Historic Use:dance hall
Architectural Style:Mediterranean Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:James Roy Allen
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Riviera, The
National Register Listing Date:4/3/1986 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the State Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. Lake Geneva won fame as a summer retreat for wealthy Chicagoans, but even in the resort’s earliest days, in the 1870s, Lake Geneva had excursion boats, temperance resorts, campgrounds, and private parks that catered to middle-class vacationers. In the 1910s and 1920s, the automobile made Lake Geneva getaways even more affordable. As visitors and new residents thronged to the lake, the city built the Riviera in 1932. This multipurpose lakefront pavilion housed shops, a boat-ticket booth, and dressing rooms for swimmers on the ground floor and a dance hall upstairs. A large three-armed pier provided boat moorings.

The Riviera sits on a manmade rubble peninsula stabilized by 280 piles driven to the bedrock. James Allen, an architect in Chicago who summered in Lake Geneva, built the Mediterranean Revival building with its rectangular two-story core and a small attic. Square two-story pavilions extend at 45-degree angles from each corner of the core. Light brown brick walls, dark brown brick trim, and red-tile hipped roofs make for lively polychromy.

Each facade is symmetrical and has a Tuscan colonnade spanning it on the second story. Otherwise, the faces differ. The north (Wrigley Avenue) side has monumental stairways curving up to the second floor, where three arched doors with fanlights lead inside. The south side opens onto the lake with a segmental-arched arcade downstairs and upstairs, a wall of windows, with two arched doorways leading to a broad deck.

The grand second-story ballroom, restored in the 1980s, has a parquet dance floor and a 26-foot arched ceiling. A colonnade and a raised promenade, paved in green and gold terrazzo, surround the dancing space. Giant windows provide panoramic lake views on three sides.

A Historic Structure Report of this building can be found in Room 312 at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Bibliographic References:LAKE GENEVA REGIONAL NEWS 6/16/1994. A Walking Tour of Olde Lake Geneva Towne by the Lake Geneva Plaque and Walking Tour Commission, Spring 1993. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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