Every home tells a story. As experienced real estate professionals that are active in our communities and rooted by our families and professional experiences to the Walworth County area, we are experts in not only real estate transactions and helping our clients achieve their dreams but also in the inspiring stories of the incredible properties, people and resources in this very special place we all call home.
The former Westgate Estate in Fontana is an example of a legendary Geneva Lake estate that has an inspiring story to tell. In the early 1900’s, Gertrude Allen, the daughter of a wealthy businessman (Central Leather Company) purchased 22 acres of land in Fontana on the South Shore of Geneva Lake. She named the property “The Oaks” in honor of the majestic oak trees that graced the property and began making plans to build her dream home on the grounds. Gertrude was inspired to build an English Tudor manor home on her estate. Work was begun on the construction of her dream home in 1917 and during the process she was married to George Westgate in 1918. Gertrude’s dream home was due to be completed in 1920 but, unfortunately, before Gertrude and George could celebrate their ﬁrst wedding anniversary, tragedy struck and Gertrude became a victim of the worldwide inﬂuenza pandemic and passed away.
The Westgate manor home was constructed with granite blocks and a beautiful granite stone wall was begun. The variegated colors and sizes of granite stone blocks were arranged alternately to enhance the beauty of the wall and match the pattern of the granite stone on the manor home. Companies in Chicago that were concerned with needing to lay-off valuable craftsmen would often send them to work on projects on lakefront estates around Geneva Lake such as stone walls and sea walls. As the Westgate wall was being built, one of the workmen suffered a serious injury and his prognosis was of great concern to the other workmen as well as George. In tribute to their fellow craftsman’s talent, the other workmen left a subtle yet inspiring reminder in the Westgate wall of their faith. The careful observer can still spot the cross in the Westgate wall that memorializes this legend today.
In 1940, George sold the estate to Marie Pisors. Later, the property was divided and the former coach house was sold. Marie loved Westgate as much as Gertrude dreamed she would when she envisioned it. Marie commissioned Duncan and Ellie Fleming (Lake Geneva residents and miniaturists) to create a miniature version of Westgate which Marie decorated to be a 100% replica of her home. The miniature did not include the beautiful granite wall but Marie enjoyed retelling the legend of the cross in the wall and it takes a careful observer to spot it. Westgate was torn down in 2008 by its new owners but the wall and its legend still edge the property along South Shore Drive.
As real estate professionals, this legend reminds us that real estate transactions are more than numbers, contracts and ﬁnances and even though they are often the largest ﬁnancial investment our clients make in their lifetimes, they are, above all else, representations of their dreams. And, at The Rauland Agency, we know that our buyers and sellers put their faith and dreams in our hands each day and we strive to assist them to successfully achieve those dreams. More importantly, every property does tell a story and if you are selling your home it is important to make sure that the story your property is telling will get your property sold successfully and as quickly as possible for the optimum price. Our agents are experts at presenting your home’s story to the market and potential buyers. And, as a buyer, it is important to work with a real estate agency that will listen to the story of your dreams and goals and ﬁnd you the perfect home to tell your story in the future. At The Rauland Agency, you are never a number…your story matters. We want to tell your story and we promise, that when you put your faith in us, we will tell your story and the results will be legendary. If you are planning to sell or purchase a home, contact us so we can show you the difference working with The Rauland Agency makes. And, if you would like to appreciate the Westgate estate, Gertrude’s dream and Marie’s pride for yourself, the miniature replica is on display at Webster House in Elkhorn, WI.