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Dr. Fisk Holbrook Day House facts for kids

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Dr. Fisk Holbrook Day House
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Location 8000 W. Milwaukee Ave., Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Area 1.6 acres (0.65 ha)
Architect James Douglas
Architectural style Second Empire, Italianate, Gothic
NRHP reference No. 97001268
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 25, 1997
Designated NHL September 25, 1997

The Dr. Fisk Holbrook Day House, also known as Sunnyhill Home, is a historic house at 8000 West Milwaukee Avenue in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Built in 1874, it was the home of Doctor Fisk Holbrook Day (1826-1903), a prominent local physician and amateur geologist. The stylistically eclectic house was built in part to house Day's large collection of artifacts, and is the Milwaukee suburb's only major 19th-century mansion. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997. It is privately owned and not open to the public.

Description and history

The Dr. Fisk Holbrook Day House stands on Wauwatosa's west side, on the north side of West Milwaukee Avenue just west of Day Court. The house, set well back from the road, is accessed via both a long drive from West Milwaukee and a short drive off the west side of Day Court. It is a large 2-1/2 story brick building, with a rectangular main block extended to the rear and side by projections. The main block is covered by a mansard roof with patterned red and yellow cedar shingles on a bed of gray, with iron cresting at the top of the steep section. The projections and a single-story rear ell have steeply pitched gables in the Gothic style. The gables are decorated with ornate bargeboard trim. The front facade, oriented south toward the main road, is three bays wide, each bay stepped back from left to right. The central bay is topped by a mansarded three-story tower. The interior has restored high-quality original woodwork and plaster, including a fine central staircase and marble fireplace surrounds.

The house was built in 1874 for Fisk Holbrook Day to a design by architect James Douglas. It was the third of Day's houses in Wauwatosa, the other two having since been demolished. It was designed in part specifically to house his growing collection of paleontological artifacts, which are now in the possession of the University of Michigan. A prominent local physician, he was appointed to the county hospital commission, where he was influential in securing reforms of the local mental hospitals. During his free time he collected fossils at regional rock outcroppings, notably the Schoonmaker Reef, and corresponded with numerous high-profile professional geologists and paleontologists of the time.

Day moved out of this house after his wife died in 1893. It was then converted into multiple units as a rental property, and fell into disrepair. The pianist Liberace once sought to purchase this home as the location for his museum in 1978. It has since undergone a careful restoration.

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