Laflin Avenue Historic District

W. Laflin and Garfield Aves., Waukesha, Wisconsin

A group of 20 residences with ties back to the mineral water resort days of Waukesha


132 W. Laflin Avenue

Overview Looking Southwest

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in April 2016




The West Laflin Historic District is a grouping of residential buildings, situated on the 100 block and 200 blocks of Laflin Avenue. The district owes its historical significance to its connection to the mineral water and resort era of Waukesha.

The majority of the houses were built in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and reflect designs and construction of contemporary homes in the Waukesha area. Designs run from the simplest (i.e., 149 W. Laflin) to more elaborate Queen Anne designs and the Wadsworth house, a Classical Revival design. The Wadsworth house (214. W. Laflin) was an extensive remodel of an extant picturesque design house. The Patterson house (210 W. Laflin) displays much more exuberant ornamentation.

There are twenty buildings in the district, and a Queen Anne house, just outside the boundary, that probably should have been included. Six are determined as pivotal, nine are contributing and five more, of more modern construction, are considered non-contributing. Large trees created a canopy about the district, many of those trees appear to have been removed since the designation as a historic district.

At the time of its construction, the district was on Waukesha's south side and was primarily rural. Mathew Laflin, a millionaire from Chicago, recognized the potential of Waukesha and purchased the Smart farm, south of Waukesha. He built the Fountain Spring Hotel, that opened in 1874 and attracted visitors from all across the United States. The resort suffered a fire in 1878 and was expanded to accommodate 800 guests during its reconstruction.

About the turn of the 20th Century, the resort and mineral water era began to wind down. The Fountain House closed in 1905 and the property was sold in 1905. (It was razed in 1957.) The location of the hotel is now covered with box-like apartment buildings, west of the district, along Grand Avenue.

The first house built on Laflin Avenue was the Sinsel House (149 W. Laflin.) Sinsel came to work of Laflin in 1886 as the superintendent of the Fountain House Hotel, where he continued employment until the hotel closed in 1905. The Sinsel house remains as the only connection to the old Fountain Springs Hotel.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 28, 1983
Reference number
Architectural styles
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Classical Revival; Victorian: Queen Anne
Areas of significance
Commerce; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Hotel; Single dwelling
Current function
Single dwelling
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 15
Non-contributing buildings: 5

Update Log 

  • April 24, 2016: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • April 23, 2016: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added description and added photos