the villa estate


14 Sep


September 14, 2023 – March 10, 2024
(Happening Now)

Supernova preview image

Featuring works by Midwest artists Hope Wang and Keith Kaziak, "Supernova" locates playfulness and high drama in the face of urban collapse. Opens Sept. 14.

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1 Oct

Chess in the House: Classes and Community for Adults 62+

October 01, 2023 | 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Enjoy conversation and community while learning one of the world's favorite pass times.

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4 Oct

FOVT Presents: Hooked on Rugs Reception and Lecture

October 04, 2023 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Join Friends of the Villa Terrace for the reception of "Hooked on Rugs" with a lecture by textile artist Emily Robertson.

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11 Nov

Pop-up Wedding Event with Relics Rentals

November 11, 2023 | 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Want to get married at Milwaukee's best wedding venue this year? Get married at our wedding pop-up event this November.

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Explore Villa Terrace

Mercury Courtyard

The Mercury Courtyard is a charming cloister now dominated by the statue of Mercury, the mythical messenger of the gods. It’s surrounded by a vaulted loggia with Tuscan columns and grilled Italian windows.

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Great Hall

The Great Hall was the Smiths’ family room and was often used to entertain guests. The ceiling beams in the room are Georgia Pecky Cypress with white, blue and yellow stenciling.

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Dining Room

Like that of the Great Hall, the dining room's ceiling is made from beamed Georgia Pecky Cypress.

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The Queen Anne-style wood paneling in the library is walnut and was installed by the Matthew Brothers of Milwaukee.

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Colnik profile

Colnik Collection


The Cyril Colnik exhibition, located in the second-floor south-wing galleries, is a showcase of metal works made by Milwaukee ironsmith Cyril Colnik (1871–1958).

Iron and Deer Antlers
Iron and Deer Antlers
Iron and Deer Antlers


This sconce with three candleholders was constructed from a deer antler wrapped in iron.

Iron, deer antler 20 Inches high 1938


Pictured is the centerpiece of a large grille that was Cyril Colnik’s “Masterpiece,” which demonstrated the mastery of metalworking techniques an apprentice was required to show to be named a master craftsman.

Iron 48 x 35 x 7.5 inches c. 1893

Dancing Dragon

This dynamic iron figure is dubbed the “Dancing Dragon.”

Iron 28 x 16 inches n.d.

Our Story

Lloyd and Agnes Smith

Lloyd Raymond Smith was born in 1883. He attended West Division High School in Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, before following his father into the family business — the A.O. Smith Corporation. Agnes Gram was born in 1893. Lloyd and Agnes married in 1915, two years after Lloyd had become president of A.O. Smith. It is said that Agnes wanted to build a unique house that reflected her love of architecture and design.

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David Adler

The Smiths hired the renowned architect and Milwaukee native David Adler (1883–1949) to build their dream home. The idea to build a home in the style of a sixteenth-century Northern Italian villa came on a trip to Italy after their marriage in 1915. Choosing between two Milwaukee sites, they settled on its present location, with Adler reportedly saying, “Let Lake Michigan be my Mediterranean.” Fittingly, the original name for the home was Sopra Mare (“above the sea” in Italian).

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Rose Standish Nichols

Rose Standish Nichols (1872–1960) was a landscape architect, writer, suffragist, and peace activist. She collaborated with Villa Terrace architect David Adler on the design of the Sopra Mare garden and its water stairway, which were probably adapted from the layout of the sixteenth-century Villa Cicogna-Mozzoni garden that she described in her book, Italian Pleasure Gardens, published in 1928.

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The Villa Today

Today Villa Terrace and its Renaissance Garden are zoned as Milwaukee County parkland. Together, they serve the citizens of Milwaukee through the creation and promotion of local, regional and international visual and decorative arts, and a wide range of intergenerational community arts programming that includes theater, music, arts and crafts, creative writing, poetry, and gardening.

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A.O. Smith Corp.

The story of the A.O. Smith Corporation is one of experimentation, research, and innovation. From humble beginnings as a small machine shop located in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, to its growth into a global corporation, A.O. Smith was one of the first to put significant resources into research and development, constantly seeking out new technologies and their practical application for new products and services.

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Host Your Event

From weddings that hearts remember to meetings that accomplish missions, Villa Terrace is the perfect place for your next event. The unparalleled beauty of a Mediterranean-style villa will surround your guests, as they appreciate tranquil views of Lake Michigan from the Terrazzo della Luna or stroll through the Renaissance Garden.

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