Sunday, June 4, 2017

Glen Arden -- Once Owned by a Suffragette, a Presidential Cabinet Member, and a Cartoonist

This month we continue our tour of the magnificent homes that were built on the shores of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin in the late 19th Century and early 20th century.

Photo from Wisconsin Historical Society 
Our next stop is Glen Arden, a property that had a number of owners over the decades before the land was subdivided.

The home was originally built by Mary Hawes Wilmarth in 1892. Mrs. Wilmarth came to Chicago from Massachusetts when she married Henry M. Wilmarth who owned a company that made lighting fixtures. Shortly after her husband died she built her Lake Geneva home. Strongly involved in the suffragette movement, she entertained many, some of whom whose names you would recognize, including Jane Addams who founded Hull House in the city of Chicago.  She and Addams were named Illinois delegates for the Progressive party the year Teddy Roosevelt was nominated to run for President.

Only one of her three children grew to adulthood. That daughter, Anna, married attorney Harold Ickes who later went on to serve in Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.

Anna maintained the home on Geneva Lake until 1922 when it was sold to
Sydney Smith surrounded by the Gump Family
Sidney Smith, creator of the very popular comic strip called The Gumps. Smith changed the estate’s name to Trudehurst. During the eight years that Smith owned the property , a statue of the comic strip’s main character, Andy Gump, was designed and placed on the property. The estate was then sold to a Rockford, IL man named Garnet W. McKee. During the 1950s the large estate was subdivided into smaller plots. The original home remained intact for a time, but was eventually torn down.

The Andy Gump statue & view of the grounds

An interesting note of interest is that when the property was sold to McKee, the statue of Andy Gump was given to the town of Lake Geneva where it was placed in Flat Iron Park. During the 1960s the statue was destroyed by a mob of partiers during a Fourth of July weekend. The City of Lake Geneva had a replica of the statue made and placed in the same spot as the original statue, positioned so Andy can look out over Geneva Lake. You can see the statue today if you ever visit the Lake Geneva area.   


Lake Geneva--Newport of the West; Ann Wolfmeyer & Betsy Burns Gage; 1976
Photo of Glen Arden: Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Glen Arden, Linn Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin, Reference #68508
Photo of Sydney Smith: Public Domain; Wikipedia
Photo of statue & property grounds:  Picturesque Lake Geneva; Bonnie B. Denson; Wisconsin Transportation Company; 1924

Pamela S. Meyers lives in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (out of print), Second Chance Love, and Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (coming June 2017 as a reissue of LFY in Lake Geneva). Her novellas include: What Lies Ahead, in the The Bucket List Dare collection, and If These Walls Could Talk, in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Midwestern spots for new story ideas.


  1. It's sad to old homes like Glen Arden torn down. I enjoy watching the TV shows where they give old homes new life. Interesting post.

  2. I'm really enjoying your posts about homes on Lake Geneva. It is very sad that this one was torn down. I grew up in a house built in1836. Not nearly as grand as these but it still stands and is a museum of South Elgin now. Thanks for sharing.