Object Photography at the Dousman Stagecoach Inn

Walnut or butternut desk and bookcase attributed to Lowell Damon, Wauwatosa, ca. 1850-1860.
Walnut or butternut desk and bookcase attributed to Lowell Damon, Wauwatosa, ca. 1850-1860.

Spring has almost sprung in Wisconsin, and with the arrival of nice weather, it’s time for me to get out of the library and back out on the road. Last week I headed to Brookfield, where I spent the afternoon with Marion Bruhn, curator for the Dousman Stagecoach Inn. The inn, completed ca. 1843 by Talbot Dousman (brother of Hercules Dousman of the Villa Louis), was an important rest stop for early settlers heading west from Milwaukee into the Wisconsin frontier. In 1981, in order to protect this historic structure, the Elmbrook Historical Society relocated the inn from its original site at the intersection of the Blue Mound Military Road and the Watertown Plank Road and undertook an extensive restoration project.

Only a few of the inn’s early furnishings have survived, most notably several beds used by travelers spending the night in the tiny second-floor bedrooms. Many of the other furnishings on view at the inn were made by early craftspeople in the region, including the late neoclassical (aka Empire or pillar-and-scroll) style desk and bookcase shown above. This stylish piece of furniture is attributed to Lowell Damon, an early settler in the neighboring community of Wauwatosa, whose home has been preserved by the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Other works associated with the area include a horn-handled carving knife and fork marked by F. A. Seaver, a cutlery manufacturer in Lake Mills, and a cherry pin-top table (a very early furniture form in which a removable tabletop is secured to the frame with hand-carved wooden pins) used in Jackson County, Wisconsin.
Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.

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