NATHANIEL W. DEAN FARMHOUSE

4718 Monona Drive

 

Nathaniel W. Dean was an assemblyman, a regent of the University of Wisconsin, and a stockholder in insurance companies and the Park Hotel. Dean also operated a real estate business, which included buying and selling a considerable share of the property in the Monona area. In that role, Dean was instrumental in the community's growth. Examples of his pioneering spirit and community concern are evident in donations of land for the original Blooming Grove Town Hall, a stone's throw from his home, and the Commonwealth Cemetery (next to LaFollette High School).

 

After selling his King Street business in Madison in the 1850s, Dean built this Greek Revival yellow brick house in 1856 as the nucleus of his 500 acre farming operation, perhaps the largest in the township. Although the home was built as a rental property, the Deans moved into the building when their home in Madison was moved off the site of the proposed Park Hotel, of which he was a major stockholder.

 

Dean was a dry goods merchant and a real estate speculator and it is in the latter vein that the house has interest, for it represents a significant link between rural Blooming Grove and the burgeoning urban area adjacent to it.

 

Because Mrs. Dean probably preferred downtown Madison, their tenure in the home was brief. The Deans left the home to live in the

Park Hotel, letting the house to tenants.

 

The city of Madison acquired the property in 1928 from a private golf club that started in 1922. Adolph H. Kayser (then Mayor of Madison) owned the house from 1916 to 1922. Kayser bought the house from Frank Allis, who owned the property from 1881-1916. Harriet Dean sold the house to Allis after her husband Nathaniel died in 1880. Frank Allis rented the house to tenant Prof. William Marshall Sr., who used it as a summer home with (among others), the youthful LaFollette sons, Robert Jr. and Philip, as visitors.

 

When the city of Madison determined that the Dean House was no longer suitable for a golfer's clubhouse, the old cream brick house was slated to be razed in 1971. The newly formed Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society decided to give the house a "new lease on life" and assumed the responsibility of saving and restoring the structure. The city of Madison has given the society a lease for the building, and the former Dean home was declared a Madison and National Landmark, "a past worth preserving."

 

Currently, the home serves as a meeting place for community clubs and organizations; as a facility for the preservation and display of local artifacts; as a "classroom" for the demonstration of pioneer ways of life, including an authentic period kitchen facility and space for the inclusion of such lost arts as quilting, soap making, spinning, tatting and the like; as a nucleus for the cultural heritage of the people of the Blooming Grove township area and their neighbors; and as a center for the exhibition of contemporary arts and crafts.

 

Among the annual activities in the home since 1976 are the "Back Porch Concerts" given free to the public from the end of June to the beginning of August on Thursday evenings.

Harriet Morrison Dean

Nathaniel W. Dean