Looking for something different to do this weekend?
You might want to check out The Baker House, a 17,000 square-foot, 30-room mansion in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
I’ve been interested in attending a Victorian tea at the mansion for quite some time, ever since I first heard about the fun events that regularly take place on the property (I’m also into visiting places where I can enjoy re-enactments of bygone times, though I don’t like to act, I just like to watch others do it!). I recently had the opportunity to enjoy the Victorian tea at Baker House with my mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. But before I get into our experience there, here’s a bit of history.
The house was built in 1995 as a summer cottage (if you visit, you’ll see what an understatement that is!) for Lake Geneva resident Emily Baker, widow of two-term Wisconsin State Senator Robert Baker.
The house was also called Redwood Cottage once upon a time. But the “cottage” was not always a home. It has a bit of a scandalous side as well and has been many things over the years, including a sanitarium for rich people and a speakeasy during the Prohibition era.
The Victorian was transformed into the gem it is today by a woman named Bethany Souza, who happened upon the property one day in 2010 and instantly fell in love, purchasing it soon after. Souza currently lives on the upper floor of the home with her family.
Luxury hotel rooms are located on the second floor, and the first floor features a library, music room, game room, dining and tea room, and bar. On different days of the week Baker House features live music, Cabaret dinner theater, murder mystery dinners, Sunday brunches, and, of course, Saturday afternoon Victorian teas.
As for the tea – I really enjoyed the experience and I think my family members did too.
The afternoon started out with choosing a hat. All tea guests are invited to choose from a wide array of fun hats in the house lobby. After we selected our hats, we went into the bar to listen to tales related to how the house came into existence.
The host then gave us a short tour of several rooms on the first floor, before leading us to the highlight of the afternoon – tea time out on the porch.
There were several varieties of teas to choose from and we sipped our selections from dainty little china cups that made me want to hold my pinky in the air.
We then snacked on a delicious finger sandwiches and an assortment of pastries, all served on an elegant tiered tray. The view of the lake from the porch was wonderful, and the atmosphere was really relaxed and not at all stuffy (although I suppose if you wanted to get into character, you could definitely put on airs and have fun pretending to a snobbish lady of high society!)
The tea was definitely set at a leisurely pace and afterward, we explored some of the lower rooms and took photos before heading outside to relax in garden area (still wearing our bonnets, of course!).
Overall, I think the experience was great and I highly recommend the Victorian tea at The Baker House to anyone who is interested in that sort of thing. I’d definitely go back and it was a fun afternoon spent with the ladies.
For information on year-round events happening at the mansion, visit bakerhouse1885.com.