CITY OF OCONOMOWOC - The sprawling mansion on Lac La Belle built for the heiress of retail giant Aaron Montgomery Ward may soon have a new owner.
An interested party has made an offer on the Knollward Mansion, 800 N. Lake Road, according to real estate broker and developer Jon Spheeris.
Spheeris, who owns the Coldwell Banker Elite real estate company, said he could not disclose who made the offer, and he did not elaborate on if or when the sale would be finalized.
Knollward, a French Provincial-style home built in 1928, boasts eight bedrooms and 15 bathrooms across 15,222 square feet, according to the listing. Two of the bedrooms are in an attached apartment. The home also features a four-car garage.
The property was listed for $3.1 million, and the most recent total tax bill was about $43,000, according to Waukesha County tax records. It is currently owned by the Steven J. and Carol E. Millen Revocable Trust.
The mansion was built for Marjorie Montgomery Ward Baker, the niece and heiress to Aaron Montgomery Ward, the founder of the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward retail company, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Beginning in the late 19th century, millionaires from Milwaukee and Chicago built summer cottages along the lakes in Oconomowoc, and Knollward was one of the largest when it was completed in 1928, according to the historical society's website.
In 1932, the north wing of the house was added and attached to the original construction by the turret visible from Lake Road.
The mansion features many amenities that signified wealth at the time, including "an ornate limestone portal; an airy foyer with a grand staircase, crystal chandeliers, and a marble checkerboard floor; and a walnut-paneled living room with hand-carved garlands, a black marble hearth, and generous French windows," according to the historical society.
The home also included a garden room with cypress-beamed ceiling and a grand library with oak pocket doors, enclosed bookcases, large fireplace and a lake view, according to the historical society.
Ward Baker and her husband, Robert Baker, entertained guests in the "Zebra Room," a basement party room with jungle murals painted on the walls.
In 1962, the home was converted into a retirement home, and a two-story wing was added to the north end of the house, the historical society said.
A total overhaul was completed about 17 years ago, the real estate listing said.
"No expense was spared in the 2000 remodel of this ... home, which seamlessly blends the classic and the modern," the Coldwell Banker Elite listing says.