Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten Chimneys

Last week my friend, Mona, and I spent two hours on a beautiful summer day touring Ten Chimneys. Ten Chimneys, a national historic landmark located in Genessee Depot, was the summer, and then retirement, home of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The couple was widely considered the greatest husband-and-wife acting team in the history of American theater. 

Lunt hailed from Milwaukee and Fontanne from England. They met and first acted together in 1919 and married in 1922. By the mid 1920s, Lunt and Fontanne were the two most respected, most popular, most critically acclaimed, and highest-paid stage actors in the country. After 1928 and until their retirement in 1960, neither appeared separately on stage again. Lunt and Fontanne had a clause in their contract that provided they would never act in the summer, so they could instead come to Ten Chimneys to retreat, relax, and rejuvenate.

Ten Chimneys today looks as if Lunt and Fontanne would walk into any room at any moment to graciously greet their guests. Evidence of their extensive travels is everywhere. Lunt was especially meticulous about cataloging all the furnishings, art, and artifacts on the estate. How much time he could have saved if only personal computers had been available during his lifetime!

We saw the main house, cottage, and studio on the tour led by an extremely knowledgeable docent. Not only could she tell us about many of the furnishings inside the buildings, but she had stories about many of the famous people who were guests at Ten Chimneys over the years.
The main house has bedrooms named after friends
of Lunt and Fontanne. 
When Alfred Lunt's mother and sister lived in the
cottage he called it the "hen house." 
The studio includes a second-floor performance balcony.
The name, Ten Chimneys, derives from the total number of chimneys on the main buildings on the estate. However, similar to the Big Ten Conference, now with its twelve teams, there are actually eleven chimneys at Ten Chimneys. A building with a chimney was added after the Lunts established the formal name for the estate and decided that they didn't want to change the letterhead on their personal stationery!

Ten Chimneys Foundation bills the tour we were on as "the tour of a lifetime." It was definitely a life that I will never know but it's nice to know that we have such a wonderful place right here in Wisconsin.

1 comment:

  1. This is just down from my old stomping grounds of Oconomowoc. We were aware of these two marvelous actors being in our neighborhood and were very proud that they chose to live in Wisconsin.