Updates by several owners have transformed this 177-year-old house in the artisan Monches community into a one-of-a-kind home.
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Located in the artisans’ community of Monches within the town of Merton, the house sits next to the Monches Mill Pond, where you can hear the soothing sound of running water and where you can get a striking view from just about any area on the 2 ½-acre property.
Built in 1842, the now 4,000-square-foot house was first a single-family home, later a bed and breakfast, then eventually returned to a single-family dwelling.
Today, it’s the home of John Baumann, who has filled it with unique furnishings that span the years in which the home has graced the area, and who has lovingly worked on restoring it since he bought it three years ago.
“The first time I saw this house was in about 1990 when it was a bed and breakfast that was owned by friends of mine,” Baumann said.
“Then, I was living in Okauchee Lake, and I decided to move because the taxes were so high, but I was also looking toward retirement and I wanted to downsize. I wanted something in the country, but I also wanted to be near friends in Lake Country.
“I always loved this house. I like the sound of the water, the fact that artists are in the area, and that my pieces would fit in here,” he added.
John Baumann, here with his puppy Lainey, bought the house three years ago. (Photo: Angela Peterson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Other pluses to buying the three-level home were that a good amount of structural as well as cosmetic and restoration work had been done by previous owners.
A large addition had been added in the ’60s, the kitchen had been updated, three new furnaces were added, there was all new plumbing and electrical, and new windows were added on the second floor.
“I changed stuff you don’t see,” said Baumann, who is the owner of Best Engineering in New Berlin. “I did foundation work, roofing, and I added cables to the ceiling beams to keep the walls in the living room straight. Nothing is straight in this room. I also redid the windows and the window frames in this room.”
Today it has most of its thick original stone and plaster walls, glossy, thick and wide oak and pine plank floors and thresholds; heavy, oversize and uniquely styled doors and windows, deep window sills, exterior walls that are exposed, and two large wood-burning fireplaces.
The addition was done in a style similar to that of a German chalet, yet it still carries through the home’s historic look.
“Then, the Wolf family, who were the original owners of The Fox and Hounds Restaurant & Tavern in Hubertus, owned this house and lived here,” Baumann said. “They added the addition, and it has the same look as the restaurant.”
In that space there’s a sunroom with a brick floor, a three-season room and a living room with thick wood floors, a vaulted ceiling with beams in a post-and-beam style and a limestone fireplace that spans almost 9 feet in width.
“This is where the original owners ran their milling business,” he said. “The mill was across the street.”
That space has a large bar/game room and a family room that was the home’s original kitchen. In that room the original brick fireplace and a bread-baking oven within it can still be used.
Spaces on the lower level, which are decorated in sports memorabilia, will be open to the public in this year’s 37th Monches Artisans Holiday Open House Dec. 6 to 8. Pieces from visiting artist Mary Anne Roethle from Rockway Pottery will be featured there.
“My style of decorating is eclectic,” Baumann said. “It’s a mess of everything. I follow my heart. When I see something I like, I usually buy it if I can afford it.”
In the dining room chairs are from the late 1600s, and the table is from the turn of the century and is made of American oak. There’s a tall Stickley china cabinet and a sideboard from the arts and crafts period, and a second china cabinet is an antique from his parents that holds a set of teal Majolica plates.
“In the kitchen eating area there’s an old blue cabinet that was in the house,” he said. “I bought it from the previous owners. There’s a folk art train from about the ’30s in the windowsill, and the kitchen table was a made from a piano. I think the guts are still in there because it’s really heavy.”
The kitchen has an island that measures 6 ½ by 4 ½ feet with a large stainless steel farmhouse sink, custom cherry cabinets and a built-in refrigerator.
He recently talked about his home while his puppy, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Lainey, followed him everywhere.
This 4,000-square-foot home in the town of Merton overlooks a pond. Pete Sullivan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Answer: It was built by Swiss architect Henry Kuntz as a single-family home. It was constructed from fieldstone from the area that was overlaid with mortar. The mortar was scored and gives the appearance of blocks to resemble the quarry stone dwellings of his native land. I’m told it’s the only one in Wisconsin.
This was the home for the wood mill business. The mill was across the street. It was used to cut planks for Watertown Plank Road, which was made of wood planks. It was later used as a feed mill and a flour mill. This was the miller’s house. They lived in the two top floors and ran the business from downstairs.
It was converted to a bed and breakfast in 1977, then returned to a single-family home about six years ago.
A: You can see one of the exterior walls in it. It has chunks of wood in the mortar to hold the wood slats. The shower was all redone, and I have a trough sink and navy walls.
A: The master, a full bath on the second floor, a half-bath on the first floor and a half-bath on the lower level.
A: The one on the first floor I decorated in a nautical theme. I used penny tile, and I painted it navy blue. The one on the lower level has an 1852 map of Wisconsin and original red brick walls.
A: It has a wood floor and a wood ceiling, a bar, pool table, a large door that accesses the outdoors, a potbelly stove, pinball machine, jukebox and a refrigerator from 1927. The bar has the original field stone wall.
I also have a table from Lake Lawn Resort (Lake Geneva), made of fruitwood from Europe that’s old. The room also has a brick chimney. Every room in the original house had a potbelly stove, so every room has a chimney.
A: There are original windows in most of the house and they have the original wavy glass. When the addition was added, they used windows in a similar style, and another owner added new windows on the second floor.
The windowsills are 18 inches thick on the first floor, but on the lower level they’re deeper. They’re about 2 ½ feet deep.
A: It has screens with vines on them and a vaulted ceiling. It overlooks the mill pond. When it’s sunny I watch TV out here.
A: A large barn, three-car garage, chicken coop, tennis court, a large Lannon stone patio and Lannon stone walkways. The original barn collapsed and was rebuilt with wood from other old barns in around 1979. I also have a private dock, and the front porch wraps around the front of the house.
A: The yard had all buckthorn and I cleared it. There were also ash trees that died, and I had to remove them. This yard is all from scratch.
Do you, or does someone you know, have a cool, funky or exquisite living space that you’d like to see featured in At Home? Contact home and garden editor Nancy Stohs at (414) 224-2382 or email@example.com.
What: 37th Monches Artisans Holiday Open House. See the works of area artists in their studios or historic buildings in the area.
Where: The artisan community of Monches near Merton. Maps are available at all the tour stops. For a list of locations, a printable map and a list of participants, see monchesartisans.com or the Facebook page.
Buddha Statue, Stone Bathtub, Marble Fountain, Stone Sculpture - Magic Stone,https://www.magicstonegarden.com/