Tag Archive | Blooming Grove

Christmas Open House at the Nathaniel Dean House


Dean House

On the 2nd Sunday of the month between May and October and December the Nathaniel Dean House is open to visitors.

During the Fall and Winter (Oct & Nov, Jan – April) they are now  are partnering with the Monona Public LIbrary to sponsor a Monona History Club series of programs.  see their web site calendar for details.


A beautiful, warm Victorian home, it is the only house museum in Madison. This month the house was decorated for Christmas and turned out to be quite well attended.  Inside the back porch was a 1890 Albany Cutter  with Santa in it!

Albany Cutter at Dean House IMG_9564

Inside was quite festive too. Lots of people were already there visiting. It was my visit since summer 2014 during their Back Porch Concert series.  In the living room we were treated to Christmas music performed by two harpists.  Very beautiful music ladies!


Harpists IMG_9717

The dollhouse even had a Christmas tree in one of the rooms.

Dollhouse Christmas room IMG_9725

Mini Christmas tree on table IMG_9713

Dean House treat table IMG_9718

Dean House Living Room and Dining Room

Many VIPs from the Blooming Grove Historical Society were there.

Dorothy Haines, a long time member of the Blooming Grove Historic Society and former Board member and acts as a greeter during our open houses.  She is also the author of Monona in the Making: History of the City of Pride, 1938-1975  which was published by HBGHS in 1999.  It costs $20.  She was warmly greeting guests and was a pleasure to chat with.

Also Gary Hess, who had recently finished his book co-written by Curator Ann Waidelich. His family had a cooperage business in Madison at Schenk’s Corners. He made these historical markers a reality.

 Gary Hess and display

Frank J. Hess sign backFrank Hess Cooperage sign

Frank Hess Cooperage photo on marker

Roll Out the Barrels Gary Hess

Gary will be talking about his book at the Monona Public Library on Feb 14, 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Roll Out the Barrels: The History of Barrel Making in Madison
Monona History Club
Monona Public Library, 1000 Nichols Road, Monona
Garry Hess will talk about his book that describes how his grandfather Frank J. Hess, father and uncles made wooden beer barrels at Schenk’s Corners for 62 years.

Author William Weidmann was also there with his new book, “A Trip Back in Time”.  It was written for 2nd-3rd graders to complement their visit to the Dean House as they learn about local Monona history. It is not for sale at this time, just during the open house.

A Trip Back in Time book at Dean House

I just heard Ann announce she was giving a tour at 1:30. I tagged along, it had been awhile since our first tour in January 2014.  We began in the parlor.

Parlor IMG_9742

 After Ann showed us the first and 2nd floor rooms,  I then met the Dean House Manager, Robert Bean. He gave us a special tour of the basement level.  This is not a regular feature of the Dean House yet, only when Bob is there. He showed two ladies and myself farm tool implements and even some lockers left from when the Dean house was used by the Monona Golf Course. Thank you Ann and Bob!

Robert Bean at Dean HouseRober Bean Door Sign IMG_9678

Golf Lockers IMG_9704

I had a great afternoon visiting this beautiful historic house again and talking to members of the historic society.  They kindly request you donate a minimum of $2 when you visit or better yet, join!  Happy Holidays from the Dean House!


Dean House Donation box IMG_9614

Father Christmas Dean House IMG_9605

The Nathaniel Dean House – Historic Blooming Grove Legacy

1-12-14 and 12-13-15

The Nathaniel Dean House is an important part of early Blooming Grove history and has been preserved by the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society since 1973.  Dean was one of the first settlers of Blooming Grove, the house built in 1856. Blooming Grove was founded in 1850 from the east half of the formerly much-larger Town of Madison. Reverend John Miller named the town Blooming Grove because he thought the flowers blooming in the oak openings reminded him of an orchard.¹

It is located on 4718 Monona Drive in Madison.

On the 2nd Sunday of the month between May and October and December the Nathaniel Dean House is open to visitors.

During the Fall and Winter (Oct & Nov, Jan – April) they are now  are partnering with the Monona Public Library to sponsor a Monona History Club series of programs.  see their web site calendar for details.


  Donations of $2.00 per person requested for continued restorations.  In the summer  “Back Porch Concerts” entertain visitors for 6 weeks,  a donation is welcomed here also to support the Dean House.  They thank you very much!

Dean House in Madison

Nathaniel Dean signIMG_9939

Dean House Plaque

Curator Ann Waidelich and Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society member Gary Hess conducted our tour.  We really did learn a lot about how a farmhouse of the late 1800’s looked and worked, complete with many artifacts.

The tour began in the living room.  A transcript of the tour in detail can be read here. The beautiful dollhouse shows how a Victorian home looks in miniature.  Portraits of Nathaniel and his wife Harriet flank both sides of the room.

Nathaniel and Harriet Dean Collage

Dean House living room

The dining room behind us shows a table,  set for 8 with Tea Leaf china.

Dining room table

On the other side of the room is a pump organ with some period music.

Pump organ

We now head to the Formal Parlor across the hall, only opened when special guests come calling.

Company parlor 1

Company Parlor 2

Then we went upstairs to the Hiestand-McKenna Bedroom.

Master bedroom

Other rooms upstairs were the Family bedroom and Children’s room visible through a door in the Master.

Master and Children's bedrooms

Master Bedroom

The Children’s room had two jars of antique marbles and child’s sewing machine.  Also a couple of school desks and early books that represent the 6 original rural schools in the Township of Blooming Grove.

Marbles and sewing machine

Children's bedroom

The last room upstairs that our guide Ann Waidelich took us to was the Museum Room where Gary Hess showed us a collection of cooper’s tools and wooden beer barrels and told us about his family’s heritage of being Coopers (wooden barrel makers) in Madison.  His grandfather emigrated to America from Bohemia and produced white oak beer barrels in Madison until 1966.  The Fauerbach Brewery used their barrels.  Here is a beer bottle from Fauerbach,  we have one that we found while scuba diving.  Gary was instrumental in getting a two-sided  historical marker placed at the site of the Cooperage at Schenk’s Corners  (intersection of Atwood Ave. & Winnebago St.).  He is in the process of writing a book about the Cooperage,  Ann is his editor. The book was finished during the Christmas Open House I attended on December 13, 2015.

Frank Hess Cooperage signFrank J. Hess sign backFauerbach beer bottle

Frank Hess Cooperage photo on marker

Gary Hess and display

Roll Out the Barrels Gary Hess

Our last room was the kitchen and pantry, with a variety of antique kitchen gadgets. Some were hard to guess! The water pump at the sink still works!  Here is a full-sized wood- burning stove in the kitchen.

Kitchen tableWater pump in kitchen

Kitchen Wood stove

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, and plan on coming back often as we can. Thank you Ann and Gary for the educational afternoon.

New members always welcome. Email at hbghs@tds.net to learn more. Also come here to learn more about the Historic Society.

1. Historic Madison – A Journal of the Four Lakes Region, Vol. XIII, 1996, pg. 5

Dean House Open House sign

Related Sites and Articles

*  Blooming Grove Historic Homes and Places

*  Historic Blooming Grove Historic Society

*  Town of Blooming Grove

*  Blooming Grove to Dissolve by 2027