Friends of the Larson House
This is a new opportunity to be part of the project and honor a loved one. Proceeds will go towards repairs and maintenance of the Larson House. Loved ones can be memorialized or honored and donors are named. The bronze level is $200 to $499, the silver level is $500 to $999, and the gold level is $1000 or more. The bronze level includes a small photo and phrases such as “beloved parents.” The sliver level includes a photo and a 50 word description of the person(s) being honored. The gold level will include a photo and a 100 word paragraph about the person(s) being honored. Visit the Larson House to see the “Friends” panels on the walls. More names can be added next year. For more information, contact Jane at 608-838-8178 or via email.
Imagine an elegant evening of candlelight, champagne and all the lovely chocolate desserts you could ever imagine. This is the famous Chocolate Fest offered on Saturday, October 8, 2016, from 7 to 9 PM at the Curling Club, 4802 Marsh Road in McFarland. Also featuring live music, a special guest baker, celebrity hosts and an upscale silent auction. All proceeds benefit the Larson House Museum. Tickets (only $15 each) will be available at the McFarland State Bank. For more information, contact Jane at 608-838-8178 or via email.
The Larson House Restoration
The Larson House was an elegant Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1898 by E.N. Edwards. The Larson family lived in it for 80 years. It stood empty and neglected for the past 20 years. The McFarland Historical Society purchased it in February of 2012 and decided to restore it to its former glory. A restoration plan was approved, the old knob and tube wiring was replaced with a safe electrical system, the badly damaged siding on the back and Bashford Street sides was replaced and painted, and the trim and gables were scraped and painted. A new side porch was built using the original porch columns, spandrels, and balusters. Tree service, landscaping, plumbing work, concrete for the sidewalks and a new furnace were donated by local businesses. Countless volunteers from the community have helped with cleanup and restoration projects.
In 2013, work inside the house was emphasized. The rooms received new plaster, paint and the hardword floors on the first level were sanded and varnished. After a cold spring, work on the front porch began in ernest. New siding was put on the front and south sides of the house. The original porch columns and balusters for the railings were installed on the front porch. Eventually, most of the rooms were completed and furnished with donated artifacts. The house has been decorated in a style appropriate to around 1920 when electricity first came to McFarland, and the original chandeliers glow brightly once again. Thanks to our skilled contractors and hard-working volunteers, and to those serving on the various Larson House committees.
The Larson House will become a house museum dedicated to the celebration of local history and a valuable resource for our citizens today and in future years. It will be available for school groups and other tours, small social gatherings, concerts, art shows and perhaps even a Victorian garden party or the like. Rooms are being named with donations of $10,000 to honor families with deep roots in McFarland history; their histories as well as the history of the Larson family are preserved. Only one room and the two porches are still available for naming. Here is the impressive list of donors and those being honored.
How can you help?
1. Become a “Friend of the Larson House.” Add your name and the name of loved ones to a donor panel at the bronze ($200), silver ($500), or gold ($1000) levels. Photographs and biographies are included. These will be framed and placed in the upstairs hallway.
2. Donate your time to become a docent for the Larson House Museum. Let Larson House Planning Chair Jane Licht know of your interest and talents. 838-8178 or email@example.com
3. Serve on one of the Larson House Museum Committees such as the Garden Committee, Ladies Afternoon Tea Committee, House Cleaning Committee and others. 608-838-8178
History of the Larson House
This landmark structure, known as the “Larson House” was owned by Mr. E. N. Edwards for only a couple years and then sold to Tollef Olson Foshein late in 1900. Tollef’s wife Ingebor died in 1903 and the next year he moved to Stoughton to live with a daughter. He died in 1910. As part of his estate, the house was sold to John Obed Larson in 1911, and it was lived in by his family for nearly 80 years.
John was a very successful business man and well-respected in the community. His economic rise began when he bought lake shore property from the Knickerbocker Ice Company in 1900. He built the popular Larson’s Beach Resort, constructed cottages, built piers and even purchased six row boats that were pointed on both ends. People could rent his cottages or purchase them on 60-foot wide lots to use as summer homes.
When John’s wife Julia died in 1933, daughter Bertha came to live in and run the household. After Bertha’s sister Tonetta retired she came back to McFarland and lived with Bertha. Some McFarland residents such as Glenn and Meg Nielsen, and Wes and Jane Licht remember Christmas caroling for the elderly sisters who invited them in and served popcorn. Back then, the Victorian home was immaculate and little changed from when their father had owned it.
Larson House Museum – History and Restoration
For a complete history of the house, the histories of the families and institutions honored in each room, and the remarkable restoration process, a new book has been published by the society titled, Larson House Museum, History and Restoration. This book is available for sale at the Larson House Museum, 6003 Exchange Street, McFarland WI 53558, and at the Museum at 5814 Main Street, McFarland WI 53558. Purchase it online through Paypal or with a major credit card.