See You in Spring 2024! 

Thanks for another great season! We reopen for general admission in May 2024. Our online shop is always open—find unique merchandise for the history lover, from made in Wisconsin items to beer and brewing, home goods, apparel and more.

See You in Spring 2024! 

Thanks for another great season! We reopen for general admission in May 2024. Our online shop is always open—find unique merchandise for the history lover, from made in Wisconsin items to beer and brewing, home goods, apparel and more.

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Wisconsin Historical Society members receive unlimited free admission to our 11 historic sites and museums, a complimentary annual subscription to the Wisconsin Magazine of History, merchandise discounts and more. Join at the Family level and above for added benefits and discounts at over 1,200 organizations nationwide! 

2 boys looking through a window and one woman looking behind them

Step into the Lives of a
Wisconsin Dynasty

When you walk through the doors of Villa Louis, you step into the life of one of Wisconsin’s most historic families – The Dousmans. Located on the beautiful banks of the mighty Mississippi River, this National Historic Landmark offers a panorama of Wisconsin history, from the advent of the first fur traders, to the War of 1812, through the splendor of the Victorian era. 

The National Historic Landmark home of the H. Louis Dousman family.


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Villa Louis’s picturesque settings for an elegant Wisconsin wedding or a unique private event offer plentiful opportunities for a historic event. Make your day historic and create a story that will be remembered for generations.

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Villa Louis Historic Site

Villa Louis Historic Site

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Villa Louis is a Wisconsin State Historic Site. We are an immaculately restored Victorian house museum on the banks of the Upper Mississippi River.

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On this day in 1896, the St. Paul Daily Globe newspaper continued to report on the life and times of Robert McBride. If you have visited the Villa Louis you know that Nina Sturgis Dousman married again after the death of her beloved husband Louis in 1886. Through her sister and brother in-law, Ella and John Lawler, Nina met Robert McBride, the editor of the Mitchell Mail newspaper in Dakota Territory, where the Lawler's lived.

Nina and Robert were married in Prairie du Chien on August 23, 1888. After spending some time in Chicago, Nina, Robert, and her children move to New York City. They take an apartment on West 55th Street and here Nina and Robert’s only child Florence was born. By 1891, Nina's marriage to Robert McBride was falling apart. Robert was described by some as, "one of the worst of the rascals." Nina separates from Robert and moves her children into her own apartment on Central Avenue in New York. Unfortunately, during the divorce proceedings, Florence dies at the age of 3 on January 28, 1893.

Robert placed blame on the dissolution of his marriage to Nina on his former friend and brother in-law, John Lawler, and would use his newspaper the Mitchell Mail to try to sully Lawler's good name. When John Lawler unexpectedly dies on February 18, 1896, at 40 years of age, the residents of Mitchell blame John's death on Robert and "Dakotans got in their licks. The leading citizens of Mitchell got theirs in on 24 February 1896, when they destroyed what they perceived to be a humiliating blot upon journalism and their community. They seemed to have been satisfied that burning the Mail and ending MacBride's notorious newspaper career was well worth the penalty they paid for it."

Once the divorice is finalized, Nina petitions to have her name changed back to Dousman. She returns to Prairie du Chien with her five children to bury her Florence in the Dousman family plot in Calvary Cemetry. Nina once again takes up residence in the famiy's beloved home, Villa Louis.

For a full account on the Lawler - McBride saga, click on the link to read "The Burning of the Mitchell Mail: Justice or Injustice?" by Robert Lee. bit.ly/48n7Z0g

📷 Nina Sturgis Dousman and daughter Florence McBride, c1890.
📷 Newspaper clipping, St. Paul Daily Globe, February 24, 1896
📷 Dousman & McBride, Sioux City Journal, August 29, 1888
📷 Robert McBride, c1890s.
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3 days ago

Happy Birthday, Louis de Vierville Dousman. Born February 17, 1882, Louis was the fourth child and only son of Louis and Nina. Louis attended elementary school in Prairie du Chien and St. Paul and then was enrolled in prep school at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. After graduation, he went to Yale University where he was tapped to join the exclusive Skull and Bones Society. In 1910, he married La Crosse native Sarah Easton. The young couple was persuaded by Louis’s sisters to settle in Prairie du Chien so that Louis could devote himself to improving the various family farms in preparation for selling them along with other family property. A son, Frederick Louis, was born here in 1911 and a daughter, Mary Losey, in 1912. By 1913 Louis had accomplished all of his goals, except that of selling the Villa Louis estate. In July of that year he negotiated a ten year lease with the Keewatin Academy, a residential boy’s school, and moved his family to Billings, Montana where his third child, Judith, was born in 1917. Louis successfully pursued a number of business interests in Montana, remaining there until his death in 1955.

📷Louis de Vierville Dousman, infant studio photograph, c1882.
📷Louis de Vierville Dousman, winter scene- studio photograph, c.1893.
📷Louis de Vierville Dousman and Sarah Easton Dousman.
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1 week ago
Happy Birthday, Louis de Vierville Dousman. Born February 17, 1882, Louis was the fourth child and only son of Louis and Nina. Louis attended elementary school in Prairie du Chien and St. Paul and then was enrolled in prep school at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.  After graduation, he went to Yale University where he was tapped to join the exclusive Skull and Bones Society. In 1910, he married La Crosse native Sarah Easton. The young couple was persuaded by Louis’s sisters to settle in Prairie du Chien so that Louis could devote himself to improving the various family farms in preparation for selling them along with other family property.  A son, Frederick Louis, was born here in 1911 and a daughter, Mary Losey, in 1912. By 1913 Louis had accomplished all of his goals, except that of selling the Villa Louis estate. In July of that year he negotiated a ten year lease with the Keewatin Academy, a residential boy’s school, and moved his family to Billings, Montana where his third child, Judith, was born in 1917. Louis successfully pursued a number of business interests in Montana, remaining there until his death in 1955. 

📷Louis de Vierville Dousman, infant studio photograph, c1882.
📷Louis de Vierville Dousman, winter scene- studio photograph, c.1893.
📷Louis de Vierville Dousman and Sarah Easton Dousman.Image attachmentImage attachment

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Sarah Dousman Allen your great grandmother was Sarah Easton and who you were named after. It goes on to mention your grandfather Frederick Louis Dousman and your great aunts Mary and Judith. Do you see any family resemblance in yourself or your twin girls?

Join us for this fun evening of history on March 19th at The Barn Restaurant in Prairie du Chien! RSVP by calling Friends of Villa Louis board member Sarah Hohlfeld at 608-412-5386.We hope you'll join us for our Annual Dinner on March 19, where you can enjoy an evening with Friends as we learn about the intriguing history of the Villa Louis mansion - including some new discoveries! ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago
Join us for this fun evening of history on March 19th at The Barn Restaurant in Prairie du Chien! RSVP by calling Friends of Villa Louis board member Sarah Hohlfeld at 608-412-5386.