Edwin J. Nieman Sr., House

13030 N. Cedarburg Rd., Mequon, Wisconsin

A large scale Tudor Revival style free-standing mansion

Photos 

Overview Looking Northeast

This is a private residence and it is not open to the public.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in March 2016

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Map 

Description 

The Nieman house is a superb, elaborately detailed, large scale Tudor Revival style free-standing mansion that was built in the rural countryside north or the village of Thiensville in Ozaukee County between 1928 and 1929 at a cost of more than $60,000 to a design by noted Milwaukee architect Herman H. Bruns. Bruns' client, Edwin J. Nieman, Sr., was a partner in the Wisconsin-based Fromm Bros.- Nieman Co., which in 1928 was the nation's largest breeder of silver foxes for furs. Nieman's new house and its 26-acre grounds were originally surrounded on all sides by the much larger land holdings that were then associated with the company's main Thiensville fox farm. The house, which is located near the center of this parcel, was occupied by Nieman and his family until his death in 1985…

Excerpted from the National Park Service, NRHP Application, January 5, 1995

The Significance of the Nieman House 

Excerpts from the NHRP Application

The legacy of the Fromm and Nieman families in Wisconsin is a considerable one. While the raising of animals for fur has never regained its former importance in Wisconsin, the legacy of the medical research financed by the Fromms and Edward J. Nieman into the causes and treatment of distemper and encephalitis now benefits the family pets of millions of families. Likewise, fully 95% of the ginseng that is grown in the United states today is grown in Wisconsin, a statistic that owes a great deal to the Fromm brother's activities.

The badger state owes its dominant position in the American ginseng trade to the industry of four brothers—-Walter, John, Edward, and Henry Fromm. In 1904, these Hamburg, Wisconsin natives successfully transplanted their first one hundred American ginseng roots from forest to garden. By 1915, the Fromms were cultivating fifteen acres of the perennial herb, a large planting even by today's standards. Along the way, they improved techniques for cultivating the plant, which is enormously difficult to grow. Their most important contribution was the implementation of raised garden beds, a practice that helps prevent root rot

Today, the land surrounding the home of Edwin J. Nieman, Sr. that was originally given over to the fox farm operations of the Fromm Bros. & Nieman Co. is now given over mostly to the grounds of a public golf course. The only remnant of the once huge fox farm operation itself here is a portion of the farm's elaborate food processing plant, which is now operated by Edwin J. Nieman's grandsons, Robert and Thomas Nieman, as Federal Foods, producers of Fromm Premium Pet foods as well as food for mink on mink farms. The only other remnant is the still splendid home and garage constructed for Edwin J. Nieman, Sr. in 1928-1929, which is the subject of this nomination.

Architecture

The architectural significance of the Edwin J. Nieman house lies in its being an unusually fine and exceptionally well-detailed example of the Tudor Revival style as applied to a sizeable[sic] late 1920s country house, in addition, the Nieman house is also one of the few known residential commissions of its designer, Herman H. Bruns, a Milwaukee architect and interior designer best known for his church designs and whose best works are as impressive for their elaborate and well thought out interiors as tor their notable exteriors.

¹ The Wisconsin Ginseng Connection On Wisconsin Magazine, Madison: University of Wisconsin Alumni Association, September/October, 1993, pg. 19.

Excerpted from the National Park Service, NRHP Application, January 5, 1995

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 12, 1996
Reference number
96000418
NR name
Nieman, Edwin J., Sr., House
Architectural style
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Tudor Revival
Area of significance
Architecture
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Building
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Secondary structure
Current functions
Single dwelling; Secondary structure
Period of significance
1925-1949
Significant year
1928
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2
Contributing structures: 1

Update Log 

  • March 13, 2016: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • August 31, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Corrected a typo

Sources