Frogs, birds and fish preside over an environment of solitude and serenity neatly tucked away near the heart of downtown Lake Geneva.
Behind fences along private property lies an oasis in the backyard of one of the city’s oldest homes, 324 Sage St.
The property is currently for sale with an asking price of $369,000.
On two city lots sits trees, flower gardens, a koi pond and two buildings — an office/studio and the two-story, post-and-beam cottage built in 1845 for a barrel maker from New England.
“It was a New England-style house, and I’m from New England,” said home owner Dee Fiske.
She purchased it 35 years ago, and since then, she has made repairs to the home while respecting its original character.
Fiske added onto the kitchen, installing large windows overlooking the backyard, plus she put in a deck off the kitchen and a cobblestone driveway out front.
She also runs a bed-and-breakfast at the house, called Lizzie’s Lodgings. The B&B is named after Lizzie, her 10-year-old Schnauzer.
At age 76, Fiske is selling the property to retire in a warmer climate. She said she can no longer keep up the yard maintenance.
There are numerous plants, trees and flowers growing throughout the property, not to mention the water feature that runs near the back of the home.
Fiske said the koi pond is “one of the best things I ever did” in the yard, which also contains a trellis, birdhouses and a stone walkway around the pond.
The yard struck a chord with Karen Strey Rappaport, of Melges Real Estate, who is handling the listing.
Rappaport said there was once talk of making the yard a parking lot.
There were no trees or plants on the yard when Fiske purchased the property, she said.
“The property is so tranquil, even though it’s just a block from all the action of downtown Lake Geneva,” said Rappaport. “Sitting on the backyard deck, listening to the water fountain trickle into the koi pond and hearing the frogs and birds sing, you would think you are in a nature preserve.”
A cooper’s home
Inside the home, Fiske kept some of the original features, such as the ceilings, support beams and the basement door, which has on it the name of the home’s first owner, William Alexander.
Alexander was a cooper — the term for barrel maker. He came to Lake Geneva in 1839, according to local historian Patrick Quinn.
Quinn said Alexander was the cooper for the Geneva Flour Mill, which today is the Geneva Lake Museum at 255 Mill St., Lake Geneva.
At the mill, the power of falling water was harnessed to run machines which ground wheat into flour.
“William Alexander built all of the barrels, which were used to transport the flour,” said Quinn.
He believes Alexander had the first cooperage shop in Walworth County.
Alexander died in Lake Geneva on Nov. 8, 1885, age 84.
From terrible to tranquil
Fiske said the property was in “terrible condition” when she bought it.
The basement was not fully excavated, she said, and one of its walls was falling apart.
Fixing the basement was just one of numerous enhancements Fiske made to the property.
Under her ownership, installations include a new roof, chimney, furnace, windows and redwood siding.
Fiske also put a wood-burning stove in the living room.
In addition to the house, Fiske has a studio/office building.
The separate structure is where she undertakes her artistic pursuits. Currently, she is working on a painting of Lizzie.
It will be hard for her to sell the place, she said, but she would like to see someone who loves gardening and being outside purchase the property.
For more information on the listing, visit www.melgesrealestate.com/homes-for-sale-details/324-SAGE-ST-LAKE-GENEVA-WI-53147/1691208/165/.
Welcome to 324 Sage St.
Frogs in the koi pond
Alive with floral colors
Pretty in the rain
William was here
Old time charm
Fire up the stove
The view from the deck
Can you hear the frogs?
Surrounded by nature
Sprout new ideas
With our home & garden newsletter!