Brookfield in Waukesha County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Dousman-Dunkel Behling Inn
It was operated as an inn from 1857-1872 by Daniel Brown, a Connecticut Yankee, however, the coming of the railroad doomed it as a stopping place. In 1873, Fredrick Zimdars, a farmer, bought it. Charles Dunkel and his descendants owned it from 1887 to 1977 when it was given to the Elmbrook Historical Society by John Behling, a grandson. Following its acquisition, it was moved to this site, once owned by Dr. Erastus B. Wolcott, the first Surgeon General of Wisconsin.
The Greek Revival architecture of this stately structure has placed it on the Historical American Buildings Survey and the National Register of Historic Places.
Erected 1962 by Waukesha County Historical Museum. (Marker Number 02-04.)
Location. 43° 2.647′ N, 88° 6.431′ W. Marker is in Brookfield, Wisconsin, in Waukesha County. Marker can be reached from Pilgrim Parkway ¼ mile north of West Bluemound Road. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1045 Pilgrim Parkway, Brookfield WI 53005, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other The William Donaldson House (within shouting distance of this marker); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. 1.2 miles away); City of Brookfield (approx. 1.5 miles away); Caroline Quiner "Ma" Ingalls Birthplace (approx. 2.4 miles away); Hamlet of Calhoun (approx. 2.6 miles away); Calhoun (approx. 2.6 miles away); New Berlin Hills Golf Course (approx. 3.1 miles away); Oak Hill Cemetery (approx. 3.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Brookfield.
Also see . . . Elmbrook Historical Society website. (Submitted on July 18, 2010, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.)
1. Additional History
Michael Dousman had settled in Mackinac, Mich., in 1791 after coming from Pittsburgh to trade furs with the Indians. He then traveled to Wisconsin and settled in the Brookfield area.
In 1843 he built a house with his son Talbot on 320 acres on what is now Bluemound Road and Watertown Plank Road.
In the 1850s a plank road was bult near the home called the Watertown Plank Road wih a toll house just a short distance away. The home became a stagecoach stop for refreshment halfway between Milwaukee and Waukesha. Being quite a showcase, the house became the social center in the early days
The land was also used as the first scientifically operated farm in Wisconsin. Ninety acres were planted in crops while the rest of the land was used for raising thoroughbred horses, purebred cattle, hogs and trout.
Michael died in 1854, and the house and land were sold to Daniel Brown. The property was again sold in 1873, to Frederick Zimdars. In 1884 Charles Dunkel purchased it.
Charles called it the Dunkel Inn or Halfway House. It remained in the Dunkel family for 86 years. He renovated it in 1964.
John Behling, also a Dunkel descendant, owned the home until 1981.
The building style is Greek Revival with post-colonial influences and is called "seaboard colonial." It was added to the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1938 and the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s.
In later years, the Halfway House was operated as a restaurant.
By this time, it was apparent that the building needed to be either demosished or moved because of all the growth on Bluemound Road. It was sold to the City of Brookfield in 1981 and moved to a 2-acre site on Pilgrim Parkway just a short distance from its original site.
The Elmbrook Historical Society became responsible for refurbishing and redecorating the home to the 1850s-period style. In 2002 the Society
This is one of only three stagecoach inns to survive today. The other two are the Wade House in Greenbush, preserved by the Kohler Foundation, and Hawks Inn in Delafield, which was saved by a preservation campaign.
— Submitted April 27, 2012, by Linda Hansen of Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Categories. • Notable Buildings • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,413 times since then and 50 times this year. Last updated on , by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.