Area Spotlights: Brisbane House

Posted April 12, 2022

Brisbane Spotlight Web

It's time once again to introduce you to some of our partners in the area who can help make your visit to APT even more magical. First up, for those of you who stay in the area (or who want to start), Brisbane House is just down the road in Arena. Read more about this beautiful historic venue below.

Brisbane House
7050 Reimann Road, Arena, WI 53503
(608) 576-6696 |

Tell us a little about Brisbane House!

The Brisbane House is newly opened for guest stays! It's a beautiful tall, skinny stone house on the State and National Historic Register of Historic Places. Just restored, it sleeps ten people altogether in the main house and in the adjacent "summer kitchen." There are five bedrooms, containing seven beds, and two full bathrooms. The new kitchen features new appliances, custom cabinetry by a master craftsman (and French horn player) with a Carrera marble countertop, a harvest table made of local cherry wood, and the existing quirky pie-safe upper cupboards installed in the 20s or 30s. The kitchen and living room have soaring 10' ceilings and both are graceful spaces with clean lines. The summer kitchen bedroom, nearly all windows, is an uplifting retreat, with a new screen porch attached. It's a blend of historic appointments and modern luxuries, a project of a lifetime!

When was it established, and where did you get the idea?

We had had our eye on this singular, beautiful place, on 18 wooded acres for nearly 30 years! We purchased it one year ago and in lightning speed restored and furnished it. Over 150 people contributed to its preservation. Of course, it was an expensive endeavor AND we wanted to share it with the community, so we've opened it up to guests through Airbnb and VRBO. Bonus! The man who built it in 1868, William Henry Brisbane, was an abolitionist from South Carolina. Dedicated to human rights, we wanted to highlight his courage and his story. Read acrostics he wrote dedicated to his wife along with other snippets from his diaries in a recently-made collage. In order to further honor his legacy, all of the contemporary art on the walls is by nationally recognized artists of color, and there's a small library of anti-racist books and books by Black authors.

What will customers enjoy most about their visit?

Heritage tourists, especially, will love this beautifully restored 1868 stone home featuring warm wood floors, 24" thick stone walls, re-plated hinges, and heirloom quilts, as well as modern amenities like new bathrooms and kitchen, contemporary art, USB outlets and dimmer switches. Who needs Brisbane? from a recent guest: -Anyone needing serenity. Two or three couples, a family reunion, or old friends reconnecting. The layout allows for those more introverted or needing quiet time to find their space, as in the second floor den or "reading" room. -Anyone appreciating the out-of-doors. Seconds away from the kitchen door, one is out on the trails to Rattlesnake Ridge or the prairie on the ridge to the east. -Anyone with a modicum of interest in history will quickly get a sense of what folks moving west experienced while traversing Wisconsin--getting to the top of one drumlin only to see another one.

Tell us about how your business fits enhances your community.

The Brisbane House is the only building in Arena, Wisconsin listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It is a valuable piece of Arena's history, stones carved from its overlooking bluff, and has been a well-loved place by many community members for over 150 years. Many families in the area have relatives who lived there and has been affectionally known as the Stone House Farm, the pencil house, the Thudium place, and the house that splits raindrops. Its new iteration of a guest house has been warmly received by the town and its community.

Why is your business a good fit specifically for people visiting APT?

The Brisbane House is great for out-of-towners who love to binge on APT! Pick three or four plays over the course of a long weekend and stay overnight. Picnic on the APT grounds or grill out at Brisbane before-hand. Sitting in the audience, an especially magical feeling is after the "curtain" falls on the play up the hill and as you look up, in the dark, to see the stars shining overhead. Sustain that feeling by staying at Brisbane where there's nothing but trees surrounding you and a big starry sky above. Brisbane is only about eight minutes away from the theater, right off of Hwy 14, but tucked into the bluffs. There are so many budding new foodie businesses in Spring Green, including the Farmers Market, and there's shopping at our favorite places like Convivio and Arcadia Books.

Anything else you'd like us to know?

We are pleased to be awarded the "Preservation Award" by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation at a ceremony in May 2022.