In 1856 the fourteenth president of the United States, Franklin Pierce, was waging a bitter re-election campaign in the midst of considerable unrest–from Indian battles in the west to forces opposing the abolition of slavery in the south. America was nearing the precipice of civil war.
In the spring of that year Dr. Philip Maxwell, a prominent and wealthy Chicago surgeon, started construction of a large, handsome summer dwelling in Lake Geneva on a site he had acquired seventeen years earlier for that purpose. The estate was called “The Oaks” in honor of the centuries-old trees surrounding the mansion.
Tall windows, broad entrances, elaborate ornamental wood moldings, marble fireplaces and a grand staircase gave testimony to Dr. Maxwell’s position as a community leader. Indeed, he was acknowledged as “The Father of Lake Geneva.” Regarded as one of Lake Geneva’s finest landmarks, the building predates all of the area’s notable summer mansions and served as a summer residence for several prominent Chicago industrialists. It was the site of an early courtship of Nancy Davis, who later became the wife of President Ronald Reagan.
General Grant once stayed in room 203 now know as the Rainbow Room. The property was rescued from total dereliction in the 1970′s by Ruth Ann and Christopher Brown who made it their home and established it as a bed and breakfast.
In April of 2002 Nancy Golden Waspi acquired the Oaks Inn. In honor of her beloved father, mother, and grandparents who resided in Chicago, she changed the name to include her Irish heritage and family namesake. Keeping the history of the 1856 mansion, Nancy included the original estate name, “Oaks”. This historical site is now known as “Golden Oaks Mansion.”
A resident of Lake Geneva since 1979, Nancy often walked past the mansion and admired its beauty and history. Although Nancy left Lake Geneva in the mid 90′s to pursue her career in the cosmetic profession, she continued to be pulled back to her many ties in Lake Geneva. After living in LA, Scottsdale, Long Island NY, Ohio and traveling worldwide, she came home to Lake Geneva to fulfill her long time dream of owning a B&B. While continuing with her career in cosmetics, Nancy has made a private oasis for her family, friends, and guests of Golden Oaks Mansion.