A historic Lake Delton house – the last remnant of the future town of Newport – is being relocated.
Dawn Manor, which was built in 1855 by Captain Abraham Vanderpoel, a lumber businessman and signatory to the Wisconsin Constitution, is to be moved, according to Lake Delton Village Administrator Tom Diehl and President /Kalahari Resorts and Conventions owner Todd Nelson, who through Sara Hood, the Kalahari’s public relations manager.
Attempts to reach the owner of the house, Steve Uphoff, resident of Virginia, were unsuccessful. The house currently stands in its original location, which is on County Highway A in Lake Delton.
The house is labeled as “Site of the Lost City of Newport” by a historic slab on the front of the property which was erected 100 years after the house was built.
The Dawn Manor land is currently owned by Nelson. Uphoff bought the property in 2017 and sold the land to Nelson in August 2021, according to Sauk County Property Records and Postcard History Series: Wisconsin Dells author Bonnie Alton.
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From 1942 to 1970, Helen Raab, the widow of Wisconsin artist George Raab, who died in 1943, owned the house and 1,000 acres of surrounding land.
She had a small lake dug, planted pine trees, and restored Dawn Manor to its original appearance by removing partitions, wallpaper, and light fixtures. Raab’s restorations were inspired by famed Wisconsin architect Frank Lloyd Wright. She left the house to her son Kirby after his death in 1970. He died eight years later.
After Vanderpoel originally built the mansion, S. H. Kerfoot, a millionaire Chicago lawyer, bought the house and added stables to the sheds and carriages built by Vanderpoel. When Kerfoot died in 1896, his widow left the house with her belongings which remained there. It remained vacant for 33 years.
The creator of Lake Delton (the current lake), William J. Newman, later owned the house. He had the 600-acre lake installed at a cost of $1.2 million and purchased 3,000 acres of land for a park.
He never lived in the house or used the lake and his finances were wiped out by the Great Depression before his death, according to an archived brochure from Dells Boat Tours. The house became a hotel between Newman’s death and Helen Raab’s purchase.
Alton, a 13-year Dells resident who worked summers in the town before living there, visited the home once during an estate sale on March 9, 2012.
“This is the last remaining structure or house in the town of Newport,” Alton said. “In the 13 years that I have been here, I have seen so many historic places disappear, demolished.”
She said people who lived in Newport moved to Wisconsin Dells when a railroad line was built through the Dells (then known as Kilbourn).