The Mons Anderson Mansion

One of La Crosse's Most Historic Landmarks

         Overview of the House and of Mons Anderson

"The Mons Anderson House is one of the finest examples of mid-nineteenth century residential architecture in western Wisconsin.  The house is a rare blend of Gothic Revival and Italian Villa styles rendered in locally quarried stone.  The house has a fascinating history from a peak of late Victorian era opulence in the late 19th century - to neglect and near ruin by the later part of the 20th century - to its current state, of complete restoration and recognition as one of the most historically and architecturally significant houses in the city of La Crosse."

*From "Footsteps of La Crosse," courtesy of Eric J. Wheeler, Architectural Historian/Historic Preservation Consultant

 

Photo courtesy of: The Area Research Center, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 

Mons Anderson (b. 1830-d. 1905) was born in in Valders, Norway, on June 8th, 1830.  He came to America in 1846, first settled in Milwaukee, then arrived in La Crosse in 1851; he was only 21.  He excelled in the mercantile trade, beginning as a store clerk, and eventually established his own store that, when finished in 1870, was one of the biggest stores of its kind in the upper mid-west. 

"So successful was Mons Anderson that during his lifetime he became the most prominent merchandiser in La Crosse and was known as the "Merchant Prince."  He was a leading supplier of boots and clothing to lumbermen in the region and was a key figure in the economic development of La Crosse in the late 19th century.  He even issued his own currency!"

"As Mons Anderson's retail career was on the rise, he purchased a simple two-story stone house on Cass Street.  The house was built in 1854 by stonemason Alexander W. Shephard, a New York native.  In 1861, after purchasing the original building of the Mons Anderson House, Mons Anderson hired noted local architect William H. J. Nichols to design a series of high style additions that, when completed in 1878, made the house one of the most spacious and elegant houses in La Crosse.  After the death of Mons Anderson, the house was sold to the YWCA in 1906 and later returned to private ownership in the 1920s.  Over the next 60 years, the once opulent house slid into disrepair and deterioration.  In 1982, the house was purchased at auction by Robert Poehling, who completely refurbished this city landmark, putting over $1.2 million in restoration toward the house."

*From "Footsteps of La Crosse," courtesy of Eric J. Wheeler, Architectural Historian/Historic Preservation Consultant  

 

By the mid-1980s, the restored Mons Anderson House received several local and statewide awards for architectural significance and historic preservation. 

 

Photo copyright of Author.

 

The exterior features a three-story tower located centrally (actually, four stories) with mansard roof and ornamental iron balustrade and distinctive multiple-arched loggia that lend an Italian Villa aspect to the house. 

 

Other elements include the lancet windows and other flooring, vaulted ceiling and carved-marble fireplace decorated from the mantel to the ceiling with hand-crafted eight-inch, painted tiles considered to be of the highest artistic value.  The Mons Anderson House, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a City of La Crosse Landmark.

 Photos copyright of Author.

                        History of the House, 1800s


 Photo courtesy of: The Area Research Center, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 

The first stone house built in La Crosse is the east wing of the Mons Anderson House.  It was first constructed in 1854 by Andrew W. Shephard, a stone mason who was also responsible for a number of other stone buildings in the city. The mansion house's construction began in 1854 and was initially completed in 1855.  Mons Anderson purchased the mansion in 1861. The west and south wings of the mansion house, noted in its day for its elegance, were added and completed in 1878, when Mons Anderson had the home enlarged and remodeled into its present imposing Gothic style. 

 

            History of the House, 1900s to Present Day

Photo courtesy of: The Area Research Center, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 

When Mons Anderson died of pneumonia in 1905, his family could no longer afford to keep the house.  The house was sold to the YWCA in 1906, which kept it until 1917. 

In 1920, the house returned to private ownership until being sold to George Lassig in 1940.

 

 George and Sylvia Lassig, Photo copyright of Author.

 

Lassig owned the house until his death in 1982, when the house was purchased by Robert Poehling.  Poehling underwent a series of radical restorative measures with the house, polishing up its grandeur and returning much of its splendor.

A plaque stating that the Mons Anderson house, 410 Cass Street, is on the National Register of historic Places was placed on the mansion in 1982, under Poehling's ownership.  The home was named to the national register on May 6, 1975, but a plaque had not previously been placed on the structure.

In July of 1996, the house was yet again put up on the auction block and purchased by a Trust.   The Trust put the house up for sale again in 1997, where it was purchased by its most recent owner, JoAn Lambert Smith. 

Photo courtesy of: The Area Research Center, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 

Smith turned the Mons Anderson House into "Chateau La Crosse," an elaborate bed and breakfast inn. 

Photo copyright of Author.

 

 In October of 2008, the house went up for sale again.  It is currently once more on the market, with an asking price of $415,000.

 

 

 *For additional information, please visit the "Footsteps of La Crosse" website, located here: http://footstepsoflacrosse.org/index.asp?TourID=7

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