Villa Louis Pond Restoration

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Part of Phase 1 of the Pond Restoration Project can be seen along the shoreline of the Villa Louis Pond. (Photo by Correne Martin)


Villa Louis Historic Site will 

continue to make history in 2016

Pond Restoration Project entering Phase 2

By Ted Pennekamp


There will be quite a bit happening at the Villa Louis Historic Site in Prairie du Chien in 2016. 

Phase 2 of the Villa Louis Pond Restoration Project will commence this spring with the goal of being completed by the end of June depending upon the weather.

Villa Louis Director Susan Caya-Slusser said that Phase 1 conducted last year went quite well and restored the pond to the original size and shape of when it was constructed in 1873. 

“We will have to go back the reinforce some areas of the shoreline that broke down a bit due to the “puddling” of the ducks,” said Caya-Slusser.

Phase 2 will involve reviewing the historic landscape plan, putting in some more willow trees for scenery as well as to help with soil erosion, installing benches and signs, refurbishing the bridges and replacing the sidewalk. “The sidewalk is low in spots and has been damaged,” said Caya-Slusser. “We also want the concrete to blend into the landscape and the walkway better.” She noted that replacing the sidewalk alone will cost approximately $10,000.

Caya-Slusser said the Wisconsin Historical Foundation is working on applying for some grants for Phase 2. Also, fund-raising efforts will continue. Updates on the project and fund-raising goals and events can be followed by liking both the Villa Louis and The Friends of Villa Louis Facebook pages. For more information about the Villa Louis Pond Restoration Project or to join The Friends of the Villa Louis, interested persons can contact Susan Caya-Slusser at (608) 326-2721 ext. 101 or by email at

“Phase 1 wouldn’t have been completed without the generosity of several people including Blair Dillman and Prairie Sand and Gravel, Tom Nelson, The Friends of the Villa Louis, a $5,000 grant from 3M of Prairie du Chien, and Dode Bonney who donated $1,000.”

Upon completion of Phase 2, there will be a celebration scheduled for the end of June or in early July.

Caya-Slusser said that 2016 marks the 80th season for tours of the Villa Louis as well as the bicentennial of the construction of Fort Crawford, and there will be events scheduled to commemorate these anniversaries.

A Visitor’s Guide Book is now in the works and will come out in June. Caya-Slusser also said a definitive book about the history of the Dousman Family and the Villa Louis Site is also in progress. “We finally have all of the people coming together for this book project,” said Caya-Slusser, who noted that photographers and the authors were visiting the Villa Louis Jan. 26. The book will be published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press and will probably be available by the spring of 2018.

Some of the many events in 2016 include:

•Friends of the Villa Louis Chili Luncheon on Feb. 6.

•Villa Louis Eagle Appreciation Weekend on Feb. 26-27.

•Friends of the Villa Louis Annual Dinner on tour in Chicago and Janesville, Wis. on March 12.

•The Villa Louis 80 Years of History Gala on April 30.

•Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen on April 16, Oct. 1, Oct. 8, Nov. 5, and Nov. 12.

•Mother-Daughter Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen on May 7. 

•First Fort Crawford Bicentennial on July 3.

•War of 1812 Reenactment on July 16-17.

•Villa Louis Carriage Classic on Sept. 9-11. 

•Prairie du Chien Day on Oct. 30.

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