A Virtual Tour of Rose Wilder Lane’s former Danbury Home

Rose Wilder Lane’s former residence at 23 King Street, Danbury, Connecticut has been listed for sale.  This week, I spoke to the real estate agent and obtained the owner’s permission to share the following photographs as a virtual tour.
Rose Wilder Lane Home 1In March 1938, Rose Wilder Lane made a $2,600 down payment and secured a $900 mortgage against the property.  She wrote to Burton Rascoe (a Newsweek journalist) saying that she had purchased a “little farmhouse” on land that was complete “with old apple trees and lilacs”.  The private and tranquil property, which she wrote about so fondly and with great expectations for the future, would be the place she would call home for more than 25 years.  And by all accounts, the residence was immaculate when Rose moved in.  Perhaps that was why she inherited two cats that refused to leave with the previous owners!
1b Front of HouseDuring her period of residence in Danbury, Rose provided editorial assistance for several of her mother’s Little House® books, including By The Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.  After Laura Ingalls Wilder’s death in 1957, Rose became the driving force behind publication of On the Way Home, which contained Laura’s original diary from the trip she made with her husband Almanzo Wilder and Rose from South Dakota to Missouri in 1894.  Apart from the work that Rose did on her mother’s novels; however, Rose’s own writing in Danbury became increasingly focused on political and social theory.
2 Rear of HouseWhen Rose purchased the property in 1938, the home was relatively small and measured a modest 23ft x 24ft.  At the time, its primary features included a large porch and an attached woodshed.  But over the next two-and-a-half decades, Rose would undertake a series of expensive renovations and attractive additions, which would see the home evolve into a much larger and enviable residence, capable of hosting a veritable who’s who of visiting writers and intellectuals, including Genevieve Parkhurst, Norma Lee Browning and Roger Lea MacBride. Today, the home features four bedrooms, four bathrooms and covers an expansive area of 3,505 square feet.
4 Lounge Room 4a Lounge Room In 1949, Rose wrote in her journal about some of her renovation accomplishments.  She noted the construction of fire places in the living room and study, and the installation of bay windows in her bedroom.  She also wrote about the construction of a new upstairs porch between her bedroom and the original lumber room (wood shed).
7 Bedroom 8 Bedroom 8 BathroomArguably, the most attractive feature of this home is the large kitchen and breakfast room, which features a unique brick floor (below).  Rose designed and coordinated its construction and the outcomes of her efforts were featured in an October 1960 edition of Woman’s Day magazine.  The article included a candid picture of Rose sitting at her table, which may have been captured without her knowledge, because she was wearing a dust-cap on her head.  That particular picture is reproduced on page 216 of William Holtz’s book, “The Ghost in the Little House” (1993). 5 Kitchen 5a Kitchen 6 Dining Room
A Danbury newspaper once reported that Rose’s library consisted of approximately 10,000 books.  This is not surprising, since Rose was a voracious reader from a very young age.  Most of her collection would have been stored in this impressive room (below), which features floor to ceiling bookshelves.9 Library
Today, the home at 23 King Street overlooks a large and immaculate garden, featuring a waterfall that cascades into a koi fish-pond. With an overall block size of 2.03 acres, Rose Wilder Lane would have found this ample to support her goal of a largely self-sufficient lifestyle, particularly during the Second World War.  In the spring of 1943, she negotiated with her neighbors to share a cow, some pigs and chickens, which no doubt became an important source of butter, cheese, eggs and ham.  She also planted a large vegetable garden and at one time had approximately 1,200 jars of home-canned food in her cellar. 3 Rear of House 12 Gardens 10 Gardens 11 Gardens 13 Gardens
The home at 23 King Street is listed by ERA Goodfellow Homes.  If you are interested in purchasing this property, the agent, Demaree Cooney can be contacted on (203) 417-0304 to arrange a viewing.  The current asking price is $450,000.


28 thoughts on “A Virtual Tour of Rose Wilder Lane’s former Danbury Home

  1. lauri5567 says:

    Thank you! I love the chance to peek inside the house. It’s gorgeous even without the connection to Rose. With it, WOW!

  2. William Anderson says:

    This a great head’s up. I have visited the place several times when in the area, and most recently the owner allowed me to explore the interior. It is very much intact, as it was when RWL lived there. The kitchen had not been altered, and I was especially interested in Rose’s upstairs “office”, realizing that it was the place where she typed letters to me, as an inquiring kid.

    • Joan says:

      I cannot believe that Rose Wilder lived in Danbury, Ct and my family never knew about it. As a girl and later as a Mom with my children, I loved and shared those Little House books. Later two of my daughters visited one of Laura’s little house on the prairie houses in Decatur, Iowa and I must have asked them a thousand questions about what it was like. Meantime, my family owned a vacation house and farm in Brookfield, CT from 1938 until 1975, and we could have met her and visited with her if only we had known.

  3. Mendicant Monk says:

    So pleased to see this one blog focused on all things Wilder. Visiting with my two oldest girls this weekend to Rapid City, SD, and bummed that De Smet is far east of us. Maybe in the future. Thanks for keeping the lamp burning for Laura and company.

  4. Rachel Poland says:

    I had absolutely no idea…I lived on South King St. for 7 years, and then on Indian Head Road for 6 (after living in Germantown most of my life). I can’t figure out how I never knew any of this.

  5. Kathy says:

    Beautiful. I lived just up the road from this house and new a little of the history but seeing the tour makes it come to life.

  6. Paula Bernstein says:

    Did the current owners know of the connection of the house to RWL and LIW? Does anyone know who came into ownership of the house immediately after RWL’s passing or was it part of the estate that Roger Lea MacBride came into as her heir?

  7. jdahlen5958 says:

    I find it hard to believe that this lovely home with its beautiful character and connection to Rose Wilder is listed for only $450,000. We had a farm not far from there in Brookfield and in 1975 we sold it for $250,000. Today it went for $750,000. Even though ours did have 72 acres, the next owner sold off much of the land and still made a huge profit. Why is this house such a low price?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s