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Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

1161 Lower Falls Rd

Architecture and History Inventory
1161 Lower Falls Rd | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Riverbend (Kohler House)
Reference Number:63500
Location (Address):1161 Lower Falls Rd
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1921
Additions: 1923
Survey Date:1975
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:Tudor Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Riverbend
National Register Listing Date:12/4/1980
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
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 Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation-Public History.

Commanding a wooded site in a bend of the Sheboygan River, Riverbend evokes a medieval English manor house. In 1914, architect Philipp, of the Milwaukee firm of Brust and Philipp, and Walter Kohler, Sr., president of the Kohler Company, traveled to Europe to study industrial communities and gather ideas for Kohler’s planned company town. While in England, Philipp and Kohler admired the picturesque architecture and tried to recreate a bit of it in Wisconsin.

To create a suitably English setting, Kohler engaged the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape-architecture firm. They laid out a driveway to the house, winding past a rustic log picnic pavilion, over a stone bridge across an artificial stream, and finally around a bowling green that forms the front lawn. Olmsted also created an artificial lily pond near the river. At the rear, a sunken formal garden enclosed by a stone wall completes the English manorial scene.

In designing the house itself, Philipp combined the rich textures and colors of brick, stone, stucco, and slate to fashion a Neo-Tudor mansion. The rambling string of projecting gables, interspersed with chimneys, dormers, and bays, creates a lively visual interplay of shapes and forms. To link the Kohlers’ living space with their lushly landscaped setting, Philipp grouped leaded-glass casement windows that open onto vistas of the surrounding woodlands.

Besides overseeing the development of the nearby Kohler company town, Kohler also served a term as Governor of Wisconsin in 1929. Riverbend is now a members-only resort.
Bibliographic References:SHEBOYGAN PRESS 6/14/1996. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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