2709 Sommers Ave. Built 1863 Madison Landmark
National Register Italian Villa
Once part of a 191 acre farm known as “Elmside” it was built by
in 1863. The land reached from to the shore of
. Its walls are two feet thick; there are twenty
large rooms, eight with fireplaces, and six separate cellars. Townspeople called it “Mills Folly,”
since it was located so far east that no one could conceive of such a long daily commute to town.
He eventually moved back to town because his wife Maria didn’t like being so isolated; he built her a
house on Monona Avenue
in the block where the
Mills sold his farmhouse to industrialist John W. Hudson, who later developed Hudson Park
Around 1890 Julia Miller, the daughter of Reverend J. S. Miller, a retired Baptist minister who operated a 200-acre farm on Lake Monona, moved
into Elmside with her mother. She lived there until 1939. In 1918, at age 65, she married John Hicks, a machinist ten years her junior. It was
her first marriage.
The original name of the house is today commemorated in Elmside Boulevard.