Addie’s House, as Seen in Addie’s Time

In late October and early November, I was back in Lake Mills, striving to fulfill a plethora of municipal and legal requirements to get my Aunt Addie’s body exhumed, so that we might learn more about her suspicious death.

During my stay in Lake Mills, I stayed at the Fargo Mansion Inn. In my career as an architectural historian, I’ve seen plenty of old houses, but the Fargo Mansion is in a class by itself. Tom Boycks and Barry Luce are the perfect hosts, and every evening, I’d plop down on the couch beside Tom or Barry while they were trying to watch their favorite shows and start chattering away. They were always incredibly gracious, and listened patiently to all my little stories. One evening, they showed me several vintage photos of the mansion, dating back to Aunt Addie’s time. And I also had several photos of my own, found amongst my late father’s belongings.

I thought it’d be fun to put all these photos together, so that folks might see where Addie Hoyt Fargo lived during her brief marriage (1896-1901) to Enoch J. Fargo.

As I said in the beginning, regardless of where you live, the Fargo Mansion Inn is worth the trip. Since 1985, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a kajillion dollars) into this old house, and they’ve done a first-class job restoring the 7,500-square foot manse to its original splendor. If visiting this house is not on your “bucket list,” it certainly should be. To make a reservation, click here.

Take a look at Addie’s House, as it would have appeared in Addie’s time.


Addie sent this photo to her family in Denver, Colorado. Her sister Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived in Denver with her husband Wilbur, and their two children. Addie was obviously very proud of her home, and wanted to let her big sister know, she finally had a home of her own.

Another view of the Fargo Manse.

Another view of the Fargo Manse, probably post-1910.

  Another pic

Addie is on the lower left, with Enoch above her. Elsie and Mattie (sisters) are on the right.

This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.

This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.

Close-up of that amazing bed!

Close-up of that amazing bed!


From the staircase, looking out toward the front parlor.


This "electrolier" (both electric and gas) is adorned with magnolia leaves.


The statuette is also adorned with Magnolia leaves.


I believe this is taken from the main parlor, looking into "The Man Cave," or the den.

Close up

Close up of the fretwork, trim and heavy curtain over the doorway.


I just love these chairs!

Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.

Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.


A picture from one of the parlors, looking toward the front door and grand staircase.


Close-up of that same shot shows a guitar under the window. Note the newel post on the right.

Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time.

Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time. Elsie is to the right and out of frame in this shot.


Same shot, sans pretty people. I guess that piano stool had a removable back?


This is the front parlor (nearest the front door) looking into the room (on the far right) that adjoins the dining room.

And this is also a favorite photo. Thats a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, Our Lady With the Light is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.

And this is also a favorite photo. That's a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, "Our Lady With the Light" is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.


Enoch invented a central vacuum system, and he's shown here "getting his suit cleaned" by one of the servants. This photo appeared in a manual on the central vacuum system that Tom and Barry found. It also shows great detail of the home's interior. This would have been a little after Addie's time, in the early 1910s.

Another photo of Enochs central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.

Another photo of Enoch's central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.


Tom and Barry will have to tell me which room this is, because I'm lost!

Tom and Barry

Tom and Barry have done a phenomenal job of restoring this grand old mansion. They told me that this house was slated for demolition when they purchased it (in1985) and began their life-long labor of restoration. It's an ongoing project, but their love of this house shines through in each and every faithfully restored nook and cranny.


One of the lone original items that had not been stripped from the Fargo Mansion prior to Tom and Barry's purchase was this semi-circular settee in the front tower.


This is one of my favorite pictures, for it captures the workmanship of the original structure, and the painstaking work that had to be done in the restoration.

A view of the parlor today.

A view of the parlor today.

I highly recommend the Fargo Mansion Inn.

I shudder to think that this incredible house nearly ended up as another memory in another small town. Were it not for Tom and Barry, this house would be another pile of forgotten construction debris at the local landfill.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn more about old houses, click here.

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  1. Debbie

    Wow! I’m glad you posted the “new” photos! Were the owners able to learn what colors were used in the house originally? Layers of old wallpaper and paint can sometimes be found. Do they know what the original color of the settee was? It would be fun to learn more about the architecture and decor of the house – what was “state of the art” or fashionable, that kind of thing. In the first photo – is that bunting on the porch or shades to block the sun? I also see something on the lawn, to the left. Do you know what that is?

  2. Mandie Brewer

    I find the tribal mask on the wall in the room to the right of the fireplace interesting. You can also see it in the photo where he is getting his suit cleaned. It seems so out of place, wonder if he was needing to ward off spirits haunting him. Hmmmmm…

  3. Bev Pinkerman

    I find it really hard to believe the town of Lake Mills was ever going to allow this house to be demolished. The Fargo family is intertwined in its history, and come to think of it, why would the Fargo family allow this to happen?

    So it took two old-house-loving people from out of the area to take on (and pay for) this massive restoration project, and appreciate the history and grandeur of the Fargo Mansion. On a more recent note, the mansion spoke to another “out-of-towner” (Rosemary Thornton) through photos and the mystery surrounding Addie Hoyt Fargo. A mystery that had long been talked of, but like the mansion which holds the secrets, not really worth the time of Lake Mills.

  4. Sarah Vee

    Wow loving this ongoing story…I have lived in Lake Mills my whole life and have never stepped foot in the Fargo Mansion. I will have to make a point to go now. I just can’t get over this story! 🙂

  5. Jan Vanderheiden

    The Fargo mansion passed from the family to other owners before it was slated to be demolished. It obviously is a huge but lovely old place, and needs massive amounts of time and money to keep it in good shape. My husband and I looked at the mansion twice to purchase it before Barry and Tom stumbled across it.

    We had to look through it with flashlights, since the power was turned off and windows boarded up. The roof leaked terribly, causing an enormous buckle in the dining room floor!

    The man who owned it prior to us looking at it had stripped huge portions of woodwork, the famous newel post, lighting, you name it, to help pay bills. The mansion was truly a wreck.

    Unfortunately, my husband and I just couldn’t see a means for the house to pay for itself with all the work it needed. It broke our hearts, but we had to let it go. We were overjoyed when Barry and Tom found the place! It is not up to what it was in its glory days, but Barry and Tom have done a good job of restoring much of its loveliness. Incidentally, there were THREE Fargo brothers, and they each built a big house, all next to each other.

    If anyone is ever in Lake Mills to look around, you may have fun checking them out!

  6. Bev Pinkerman

    I’m aware it had passed out of the Fargo family before Barry and Tom came along. I don’t understand why the town couldn’t find some use for it and preserve it that way. In the grand scheme of things the United States doesn’t have a long history so it is a shame to see any of this country’s remarkable architecture destroyed. That’s where it’s radically different from Europe!

  7. Hillary Taylor

    My husband and I were married on the front porch. I grew up in Lake Mills and I worked at the mansion when I was in high school. I used to pretend it was my house when I cleaned up after guests. 🙂 I love learning about Addie and her life. Thank you for the great research you’ve done and compiled.

  8. Debbie

    Are the other Fargo houses still standing? I would love to hear more about the old houses if anyone has any other information. The history of an old house is important and adds to the story of our ancestors. Also, any chance of a paranormal investigation at the mansion? That too, is another part of Addie’s story.