Historic home with iconic wreath stands test of time despite road construction

Historic home with iconic wreath stands test of time despite road construction

It’s a sight you’ve probably driven past while headed into Madison from the west side – but what’s the story behind the old house that’s always outfitted with a festive wreath on County Highway M?

Marie Bigley is the woman with that story. She says her father purchased the parcel of land 30 years ago with plans to burn down the old home, built sometime in the 1860s. Marie couldn’t bear to see it go.

“I just couldn’t quite handle that myself,” she remembers.

Marie’s father ultimately built a second house on the property and left up the old one, sans running water or warmth. But he always hung a wreath up on the door during the holidays – a tradition Marie took over when he died two decades ago.

“Pretty soon I had people stopping and saying oh how much they enjoyed seeing the old house with the wreath on the door – so that sort of spurred me on,” she said.

Marie now has more than a dozen different wreaths, a handful for each season. She changes them out on the front door once a month.

It’s a tradition that will continue, despite other changes along the stretch of highway. The corridor of County M near Prairie Hill Road, connecting with Raymond Road and PD, is currently in the throes of a major reconstruction effort to upgrade the oft-traveled path near Epic Systems.

Because Marie’s old house is considered historic, the entire project had to be designed so as not to get anywhere near the building.

Marie is happy to hear her project will live on for others to see.

“It makes me happy to know I can put a smile on somebody’s face when they’re driving by,” she said. “That’s probably the biggest joy.”