Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Younglands: The History Behind Stone Manor One of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin's Icons of the Shore

Younglands & the yacht Polaris, which was featured in my April Blog.
Last month I wrote about the yachts that belonged to the millionaires who resided on the shores of Geneva Lake in southeastern Wisconsin, and this month I’m featuring one of the most well-known mansions on the lakeshore. 

Stone Manor has commanded Geneva Bay at the east end of the lake for over a century. Originally called Younglands after Otto Young, the self-made millionaire who in 1898, engaged noted architect of the time, Henry Lord Gay, to design a magnificent Italian-style mansion

The mansion (when the name change occurred is unknown--likely when the family sold the property) is now divided into five luxury condominiums, the exterior has barely changed at all since it was built over 100 years ago.
Recent picture of Stone Manor taken from town of Lake Geneva

After making his fortune in retail, Mr. Young, a German immigrant purchased the land on the south shore of Geneva Bay, and after the Italianate style mansion was completed in 1901, he moved his wife and four daughters into the home. And what a home it was with gold plated electrical fixtures on the first floor and sterling silver fixtures on the upper floors. Its carved mortar ceilings boasted of oil paintings done by artists he brought in from Europe. Other features were a dining room large enough to hold 100 diners, a nine-hole miniature golf course, a bowling alley, and a roof garden..

Original Ballroom - first floor condo
In addition to the features mentioned, the second floor contained nine large bedrooms with connecting sitting rooms and baths. Indoor plumbing was still a novelty for most at that time, but nothing was too extravagant for Mr. Young. 

The third floor contained seven guest rooms and seven servant rooms that were isolated from the guest portion of the floor. The golf course was on the fourth floor that also contained a gym. Nowadays a swimming pool occupies the roof deck.

The final cost was well over a million dollars, which was extremely extravagant for the times. By comparison the first floor condominium that takes up the entire floor is currently on the market for over almost 7 million dollars, and several years ago one of the upper level condos that occupies half of the second floor was on the market for almost 3 million dollars.  
Doors to Billiard Room

Unfortunately, Mr. Young was only able to enjoy his lavish home for five years. He passed away in 1906, and his wife and daughters did not spend much time in the home after that. His wife died in 1916 and the property was passed on to one of his daughters, who willed it to one of her daughters, Gwendolyn Koch. Mrs. Koch donated the mansion and acreage to the Episcopal Order of St. Anne and they ran it as a church camp and school for girls through the 1940s. From the 1950s to the current times, the property experienced several ownerships. It’s been a private residence, a school, and a restaurant. By the 70s and 80s, its future was tied up in courtrooms because of liens on the property. Finally someone bought it and began to convert it to condominiums after first having to repair a lot of water damage. Nowadays it is on the National Register for Historic Places, which ensures the outside appearance will never be altered, although individual condo owners can change the décor and floor plan in their own units.

Original staircase in common area of condos

Below is a video produced by the real estate agent who  handled the marketing of the one of the second floor condominiums a few years ago. 

The first floor condominium is on the market now, and the interior shots display a décor that is more true to the design of the time the home was built. The original carved ceilings, fireplace surrounds, and pocket doors are all there. Sale price is around 7 million dollars.

Click here for a virtual tour of the first floor unit.

Unless you know someone who lives in one of the condos or are seriously well-endowed and interested in purchasing one of the units for sale, chances are you won’t be able to see the interior of this magnificent representation of its time period, but you can see it up close and personal by walking the shore path from the town of Lake Geneva to the property, a short distance away. 

Picture Credits:

Picture of Stone Manor & Polaris Yacht from: Lake Geneva in Vintage Postcards, Smeltzer and Cucco, 2005.

Pictures of interior shots of the first floor Condo from: Lake Geneva Life at the Water's Edge, by Michael Keefe with Andria Hayday and Tom Keefe, 2006

Remaining photo by Pamela S. Meyers

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way, contemporary romantic mysteries, and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other midwestern spots for new story ideas.


  1. What a neat place! Thanks for telling this interesting story.

  2. That is one beautiful building and condo! I enjoyed the video and pictures. Maybe we could afford to spend one night there! thanks for your research and post. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Pamela,do you know the names of all the previous owners? Somebody on facebook tried to say Gary Gyax had owned it once, but I never heard that one. I am from Genoa City. Did you attend Badger?

  4. MariAnn, it was never owned by Gary Gygax. It went through a series of owners until it was divided into condos, but not him. I've never heard that before either. Yes I did attend Badger. Graduated a long time ago :-).

  5. Gary Gygax did have condo there in the late 80s. I visited his son Lance there and swam in the pool.

    1. Hi Unknown,
      Thanks for that info about Gary Gygax. Of course the situation with Stone Manor continues to evolve. That's all for another article someday. :-)