The site is focused around the historic Grey House, a 1908 Arts & Crafts styled mansion designed by the Chicago architect Lawrence Buck. The cultured grounds were planned out by Chicago landscape architect A. Phelps Wyman. Many buildings on the estate's farm campus were built between 1908 and 1911, including the Barn/Garage, Chauffuer's House, Gardener's House and the Root Cellar. George A. Burden and his wife Viola developed this gentleman's farm in the country outside Dubuque in order to raise their children, George (Bill) and Viola. The Burdens were able to enjoy an idyllic country lifestyle, with downtown Dubuque accessible through the use of their automobile, allowing Mr. Burden to commute to work on a daily basis.
Bill Burden married Elizabeth Adams in 1924 and the second primary residence on site was built for them, the White House. The architect of the White House is unknown, but it is in a traditional Colonial Revival style and always featured its signature white clapboards, columns and interior trim. The Burdens raised their three girls, Frindy, Vidie and Betsy, in the White House. Mrs. Burden occupied the home and the estate until her death.
The Burdens would not have been able to maintain Four Mounds without the help of dedicated, long-term employees. At the time of Elizabeth's death in 1982, she still had full-time, live-in staff. These people worked hard but were looked on as part of the Four Mounds family. The Heitzman's (gardeners and caretakers) lived in the lower yellow house (or Gardener's House) spanning six decades. Milton Kirch, the chauffuer, lived in and worked out of the upper yellow house (Chauffuer's House) for over thirty years. He and his wife raised their three children there.
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