Office of the President

Brittingham House History

Architect Frank Riley

A Madisonian from birth, Frank M. Riley is one of the city’s most well-known early 20th-century architects.

Riley began his studies at the University of Wisconsin, where his father was the secretary for the UW Board of Regents, but he ultimately earned his degree from MIT. Soon after, he traveled Europe where he used time in Britain, Italy and Germany to sharpen his architectural skills.

When he finally returned to Madison after the outbreak of World War I, Riley quickly went to work building a legacy that would include some of the city’s most recognizable buildings, such as the Madison Club, the Governor’s mansion in Maple Bluff, and Madison East High School.

The Brittingham family utilized Riley’s talents to build two additional homes, one in California and one in Maple Bluff for Thomas, Jr. Throughout his career, Riley insisted all of his houses “should have dignity, charm, and look lived in,” all traits Brittingham House still embodies today.


Historic photo of vestibule
Modern view of dining room

Vestibule into dining room, circa 1917 and 2006.


Dunmuven hall and stairs

Staircase, 1916 and 2006.

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