Denniston House

Also known as: Old Denniston House
117 E. Front St, Cassville, Wisconsin


Oblique View Looking East

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in June 2012



Land, Lead, Lawyers and Politicians 

Written by J.R. Manning

In the early 19th Century, the population center of Wisconsin was in the Grant County area. Miners swelled the population, drawn by jobs in the lead miles in Grant and Iowa Counties. The first capitol was in Belmont, southeast of here.

Lawyers from New York, who also happened to be land speculators, joined the fray to attract the capitol of the territory, and then the state, of Wisconsin. The Daniels, Denniston and Company bet that the capitol would land in Cassville, and built this structure to provide lodging for all the elected officials. Cassville and Belmont lost out when the capitol was placed in Madison.

The fortunes of Denniston, Daniels and Company began to fade (they went bankrupt) but in 1854, Nelson Dewey, the first governor of Wisconsin, stepped in and bought the Denniston House as part of a package that included much property in the area.

The Denniston House was operated as a hotel and restaurant until 1985. Today, it stands empty. The building is for sale, in case you might like to operate a bed and breakfast on the busy Mississippi River. The original widow's watch is gone, as is the ballroom and several other features, otherwise, the building looks much the way it did when Governor Dewey purchased it.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 20, 1975
Reference number
Areas of significance
Commerce; Politics/Government
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; B - Person
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Periods of significance
1850-1874; 1825-1849
Significant years
1836; 1854

Update Log 

  • June 11, 2012: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • June 11, 2012: New photos from J.R. Manning