Villa Incognito: Latent Narratives in the Permanent Collection
March 31, 2021 – September 26, 2021
This exhibition examines the mansion and a group of objects from the Villa Terrace collection, showing how various forms of imitation, synthesis, and symbolism are at work, and how these strategies work to create an idealized environment.Read More
Explore Villa Terrace
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.Take a Tour
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.Take a Tour
Like that of the Great Hall, the dining room's ceiling is made from beamed Georgia Pecky Cypress.Take a Tour
The Queen Anne-style wood paneling in the library is walnut and was installed by the Matthew Brothers of Milwaukee.Take a Tour
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).
This sconce with three candleholders was constructed from a deer antler wrapped in iron.
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.
This dynamic iron figure is dubbed the “Dancing Dragon.”
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.See the Whole Story
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).See the Whole Story
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.See the Whole Story
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.See the Whole Story
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.See the Whole Story
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.