Friday, March 4, 2016

Glen Fern -- Built in 1911 and Still a Beautiful Home Today

By Pamela S. Meyers

It’s time for another stop at one of the historic mansions along the shores of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin. Moving a bit further west from our last visit, we come to Glen Fern, owned by Judge and Mrs. N. C. Sears.

Judge Sears was a Chicago judge who gained a very positive reputation, which was described by a local paper this way: “An honest judge on a Cook County bench is such a rare bird that when one is found, they become very conspicuous.”

In 1884, the judge and his wife first built a home on the property that held to the style of the times—wide wraparound porch, first story built of fieldstone, and a three-story tower. The property also included a foreman’s cottage and a large circular fieldstone barn of three stories which was built into a slope.

Sears hired N.P. Pierson to manage the fruit trees that filled the estate. Pierson used a novel approach of spraying the trees, and the cherry yield won a special blue ribbon in 1913 at a mid-summer fair.

Glen Fern II Built in 1911
In 1910, the couple decided to upgrade and they had a new larger home constructed a short distance from the first home. This structure, which still exists today, had a first floor of stone facing, and the second floor of pink and grey granite. The childless couple used this home to host a number of weddings for their extended family and close friends. What a wonderful setting for these celebrations on warm summer days.

While in residence at his Lake Geneva home, the judge enjoyed using his steam yacht Quaniche to pick up friends at the nearby Elgin Club and take them on tours of the lake.

The fate of the first home is unknown, although fire often claimed many of the early wood structures thanks to the difficulty of first responders of the day reaching the homes by land.

Glen Fern Today -- Still well preserved and occupied.
The property was eventually subdivided, but Glen Fern remains a private residence today and is a familiar sight to boaters and walkers along the shore path.


Lake Geneva Newport of the West, Ann Wolfmeyer & Mary Burns Gage, 1976
Lake Geneva Estates:

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, which has recently been rereleased on Amazon and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Love is All We Need (the sequel to Thyme for Love) will release in 2016, and Second Chance Love from Bling!, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, will release in January 2017. 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. So gorgeous...thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree. I love how it was built over 100 years ago and is still a lived-in home today.

  2. This place looks amazing! Nice view too! Thanks!

  3. Judge Sears was my grandmother's uncle.