the villa estate


27 Jun

David R. Harper

June 27, 2019 – September 15, 2019
(Happening Now)

David R. Harper preview image

Harper references the museum’s history as a decorative arts museum by using images and objects that fit within a decorative art genre, but composes them in imaginative ways to suggest that these categories are permeable and changing.

Read More
View All


27 Aug

A Mouth-Shaped Room in Sense and Sound with Present Music

August 27, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Present Music Ensemble flutist, Jennifer Clippert moves throughout multiple galleries, creating a unique atmosphere within each space that includes studies of bird sounds combined with Aboriginal voices.

Read More
29 Aug

Nights in the Garden | Enter Through the Neptune Gate

August 29, 2019 | 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Enjoy the beauty of the Renaissance Garden with live music from Swing Chevron and Neptune cash bar.

Read More
30 Aug

Dedication of the Villa's New Butterfly Garden

August 30, 2019 | 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Join us for the dedication of the Villa's new butterfly garden. A project of the Friends of Villa Terrace.

Read More
5 Sep

Nights in the Garden | Enter Through the Neptune Gate

September 05, 2019 | 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Enjoy the beauty of the Renaissance Garden with live music from Frogwater and Neptune cash bar.

Read More
12 Sep

Nights in the Garden | Enter Through the Neptune Gate

September 12, 2019 | 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Enjoy the beauty of the Renaissance Garden with live music from Scott Hlavenka and Neptune cash bar.

Read More
19 Sep

Floral Design Class: For Your Backyard Friends

September 19, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

The Friends of Villa Terrace present the fourth and final workshop in a series of floral design classes with Bella Fiori.

Read More
View All

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.

Take a Tour

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.

Take a Tour

Dining Room

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
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

Master Piece

Pictured is the centerpiece of a large grille that was Cyril Colnik’s “Master Piece,” 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.

See the Whole Story

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).

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.

Rent Villa Terrace