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HomeAbout the Residence
About the Wisconsin Executive Residence

Front Entrance

Reception Room

Formal Dining Room

The Wisconsin Executive Residence was originally privately owned and became the official Wisconsin Executive Residence when it was purchased by the state in 1949.  It has been home to fifteen governors and first families.

Architect Frank Riley, born in 1875 and raised in Madison, designed the house in a Classical Revival style for Madison industrialist, Carl A. Johnson. Construction began in 1921, but after the death of Mr. Johnson’s wife, he stopped construction and the house remained unfinished. A few years later, after Mr. Johnson re-married, construction resumed and was finally completed in 1928. In 1933, Madison banker Thomas R. Hefty purchased the house. In 1949 the State of Wisconsin bought the home from Mr. Hefty for $47,500. (At that time, it was assessed at $200,000). Since then, it has been known as the Wisconsin Executive Residence.

Drawing Room


Sun Room

The Residence was extremely well built for its time with 12 to 18-inch thick walls, sandstone block construction, and a stucco finish.  It consists of three floors with 16,000 square feet of living space (8,000 square feet per floor, not including the lower level), contains 34 rooms including seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, seven fireplaces, and features 10 major gardens. The Executive Residence continues to be managed and cared for by a Director, Executive Chef, Housekeeper, Laundress, and Event Coordinator, as well as facilities maintenance specialists and 24/7 security personnel. The First Lady's Chief of Staff also works from the residence, and a volunteer staff of more than 30 docents conduct tours of the public rooms while sharing historical information about the house and its residents.

The Residence sits upon 3.7 acres of land overlooking the eastern edge of Lake Mendota and was once a summertime campground for the Ho-Chunk tribe in the Village of Maple Bluff, which was officially incorporated in 1931.

Today the Executive Residence is a shining example of the state’s past, present, and future, featuring contemporary and historic works of art, furniture, and décor. Since 1964, the Residence has been overseen by the Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation (WERF), a non-profit group that raises funds for use in the renovation, maintenance and care of the state-owned residence to ensure its long lasting legacy.

Garden Views

Because of the First Lady’s special interest in working on behalf of people with dementia and their caregivers, she, and the entire staff at the Executive Residence, along with many of volunteer docents received dementia friendly training, and the residence is now, for the first time, officially designated a dementia-friendly site. Training included information on recognizing signs and symptoms, how better to communicate with some who has cognitive impairment, and how to make the Residence more navigable for those with dementia. Since then, the Residence has hosted dedicated tours and a dementia-friendly holiday decorating party for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, and decorated a purple-themed dementia awareness tree at the Residence each holiday season.

To learn more about dementia-friendly designations click here
To cap off June as Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, we decided to “Go Purple” and had the Executive Residence lit in purple lights. Purple is the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement. Mrs. Evers has been especially active in highlighting the importance of research, early diagnosis and caregiver support for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In fact, through her leadership, the Residence has been officially designated a “dementia friendly” site and has hosted several events designed to welcome folks with dementia and their caregivers.

The Governor and Mrs. Evers Go Purple to raise awareness in honor of all Wisconsinites with dementia and their caregivers.