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The year was 1865; the nation was mourning the loss of President Abraham Lincoln, an eighteen-year-old boy named Edison was launching his career, and an enterprising barrel cooper from Milwaukee named William Thompson journeyed to Mazomanie and began building this stately home.

Bed and Breakfast HistoryFinanced by success with the Mazomanie Flour Mill, Thompson constructed an impressive Italianate home complete with an ornate wraparound verandah, eight-sided porch columns and scrolled brackets, second-story balcony, and widow’s walk cupola.

To impress business associates and peers, Thompson installed a beautiful curving staircase in the foyer, southern yellow pine floors in the parlor, and plenty of ornamental plasterwork.

Our town’s name, Mazomanie, comes from Chief Mazomani, a leader of the Sioux of Minnesota.

His name translates to “The Iron That Walks” or “Walking Iron”. Edward Brodhead, a superintendent of the railroad during the 1850’s, named our town, probably after a suggestion from Hercules Dousman, ( Wisconsin’s first millionaire).

Mazomani was described as a firm friend of the whites. He was wounded on September 23, 1862, in a battle between a band of Indians led by Little Crow, a Sioux chief, and the US Army near Yellow Medicine River, Minnesota. Mazomani had sought a flag of truce, but was shot while running toward the Army’s lines. He died several days later.

Mazomanie, and our town’s rich railroad history, both reflect the name “Walking Iron”.

One hundred and thirty one years later, David and Karisa Friske became the new owners and the monumental task of restoring the home to its original grandeur became their goal.

Watch our Video of “If Walls Could Talk” segment featured on HGTV.


With a unique vision to share the interesting history and beautiful architecture with the public, the owners began a full-scale restoration in 1996. Walking Iron Bed and Breakfast brings an elegant and special place to life for travelers from everywhere in the world.

Karisa is an office manager at Cross Plains Dental. After several years of going to school and working at Kraft Foods, she decided to get out of the rat race and this job is perfect for that! She graduated with a BS in Psychology from UW-Madison in 1999.

When he’s not busy restoring the bed and breakfast, David works on other people’s homes! He operates Madison Building Repair, a construction company that does just about everything and anything! He graduated with a Communications degree from UW-Madison in 1989. Our children are Kaia, age 22, Zane, age 20, and Colt, age 17.

Over the years they have taken the time to restore the carriage house into our personal residence. It was built in 1909 and was converted into an art studio in the early 1980’s. Cathedral ceilings and oak beams blended with the rustic decor make their home a real contrast to the Victorian splendor of the main house.

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