Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Lloyd R. Smith House
|Architect||Adlee,David; Nichols,Rose Standish|
|Architectural style||Renaissance, Other|
|NRHP Reference #|||
|Added to NRHP||December 30, 1974|
Villa Terrace was built in 1924 for the Lloyd R. Smith (1883-1944) family. After returning from a trip to Italy, the Smiths commissioned architect David Adler to design their new home. The architecture and water stairs were inspired by Villa Cicogna Mozzoni (built in the 1560s) in Lombardy, Italy.
The ironwork in the home is from the Milwaukee studio of Cyril Colnik, an Austrian-born blacksmith. Rose Standish Nichols was a landscape designer who is credited with the original Villa Terrace planting design. No record of her plan for the Smith residence has been found.
Villa Terrace's art collection features fine and decorative arts dating from the 15th through the 19th centuries, wrought iron masterpieces by Cyril Colnik and changing exhibitions highlighting the decorative arts. It is also the host of a Garden Lecture series, in which attendees are able to learn more about planning and maintenance for their home gardens.
Lloyd died in 1944. In 1966, the Smith family donated their home to Milwaukee County to serve as a Decorative Arts Museum. In 1976, a formal planting of sugar maple bosques with privet hedges and white gravel was installed. During the 1990s, The Parks Department suffered severe budget cuts, which resulted in reduced maintenance and decline.
In 1997, The Friends of Villa Terrace Board committed themselves to restore the gardens at Villa Terrace. Based on the master plan created by Buettner & Associates, volunteers with the Renaissance Garden Club began two years of site clearing in the spring of 1998. Construction of the gardens began in 2000 and continued for two more years. After four years of work, the gardens officially opened to the public in July 2002.
Villa Terrace is a popular site for weddings in Milwaukee. For brides in Milwaukee's changing climate, the views offer something that would otherwise only be attainable by travelling to Europe. Its Italian Villa structure, picturesque garden, unique stairways and breath-taking views of Lake Michigan provide Wisconsin brides with scenery they would otherwise not be able to use.
The Villa Terrace, along with the Charles Allis Art Museum, is part of the Milwaukee County War Memorial Corporation.
- National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination:" (PDF). National Park Service. with photos