FOVT Spring Garden Lecture Series

March 18
BLC Field School Neighborhood Study

Arijit Sen
Associate Professor of Architecture at UWM

March 25
The Tropical Paradise Garden

Brent Heath
Brent and Becky's Bulbs

April 1
Romance and Practicality in Today's Garden

Craig Bergmann
Landscape Architect

April 8
A Passion for Gardens:
The Garden Conservancy and its Work

Carlo Balistrieri
V.P. of Preservation
The Garden Conservancy

All Lectures Wednesdays 7:00 p.m.
$15 / $12.50 FOVT Members
Contact Eileen For More Info and to reserve in advance.




The Friends of Villa Terrace need your support of the Renaissance Garden, which will assure that this artistic, cultural and historic site will be enjoyed by future generations.

The Renaissance Garden is a public garden for people from all walks of life. It is maintained entirely through private donations from the Friends of Villa Terrace. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution or even becoming a Friend yourself!

Designated as one of America’s Treasures by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service, the Garden is an oasis of unparalleled beauty. As an educational setting for students of structural and landscape architecture, horticulture and Greco/Roman mythology, the Garden is also a precious cultural resource for all the people of Milwaukee.

The Renaissance Garden was created to complement the 16th century Italian architecture of the Villa itself, which was built in 1923 for the L.R. Smith family. After many years of neglect the Garden languished in obscurity. Over time, the Garden became so overgrown that it was practically impossible to see the lake from atop the terrace at the Villa.

In 1997, the Friends of Villa Terrace decided to restore the Garden. Through their own capital campaign, they sought to underwrite the costs of the initial landscape design, total clearance of the entire site and, finally, the creation of the Renaissance Garden. Eventually, a total of $1,750,000 was raised to accomplish this task and plant the first seeds of an endowment fund with which to maintain the Garden long-term. Those financial donations came from sources large and small, as well as from the brides and grooms who were married within the Garden. Countless volunteers came forward to help in whatever way they could - and continue to do so today.

Since the Grand Opening in 2002, the Friends of Villa Terrace present a Garden Gala every two years, which features a specially designed multi-course feast served upon tables decorated with fine linens, ornate candelabra and natural garlands. All of this takes place under a clear-span tent, complete with live music and dancing. The Galas are a highlight of the Summer social season in Milwaukee and provide the major financial support for the Garden.

In addition to presenting the Galas, the Friends of Villa Terrace sponsor numerous garden-related events, such as the Spring Lecture Series, concerts and readings on the Terrace, an annual Villa Luna Party in August and Antique Appraisals in October. During the Holiday Season, the Renaissance Garden is brought indoors as the Friends decorate the Villa with fruit and flowers in a Della Robbia manner.

The Friends of Villa Terrace encourage and welcome your support to help maintain the Renaissance Garden. If you have enjoyed the Garden first-hand by attending one of our past events or from afar by driving along Lincoln Memorial Drive, you know what a dream-like setting it is.

Please see the Membership Page for more information on becoming a member of FOVT.



Italian Cooking Classes At Villa Terrace With Chef Elissa Franke
Hands On Classes Specializing In Three Distinct Regions Of Italy:
Northern Italy, Tuscany and Southern Italy.

Prepare dishes together in the Villa Terrace’s kitchen followed by dinner family style in the dining room.
Each class will focus on recipes and ingredients of the regions using the best of seasonal ingredients and technique, plus where and how to find products we will use in class. Elissa Franke divides her time between Tuscany and Milwaukee catering and cooking for friends and family in each place six months of the year.

Courses includes: 
Antipasto, primo piatto, secondo piatto, dolce, and a mid-class break for discussion, snacks and wine.

Northern Italy - Wednesday, Feb 4
Tuscany - Wednesday, March 4
Southern Italy - Tuesday, March 31

$130 per person
Classes begin at 4p.m. and end around 8:30 p.m.
Each class is limited to eight people
Reservations are required with the Friends of Villa Terrace at





Purchase the book, Cyril Colnik Man of Iron written by FOVT member Al Strekow by clicking here.