Fairlawn was built as the home of Martin Pattison who lived here with his wife Grace and six children. Pattison, a wealthy lumber and mining baron, envisioned Fairlawn as a home befitting his success. Construction began in 1889 and was completed in 1891 for a cost of $150,000.
The 42 room mansion is built in the popular Queen Anne Victorian style of architecture. The proud four story turret makes Fairlawn a familiar landmark along Harborview Parkway. Other classic features of the Queen Anne style include the home’s prominent porch, steeply gabled roof, and the use of contrasting colors and textures on the exterior trim.
Following Martin’s death in 1918, Grace Pattison donated Fairlawn to the Superior Children’s Home and Refuge Association to be used as an orphanage. Approximately 2000 children called Fairlawn home during the 42 years it was a children’s home, from 1920-1962.
In 1963 the City of Superior purchased Fairlawn for $12,500. The mansion had been slated for demolition in accordance with Grace Pattison’s will after the Children’s Home closed its doors, but civic leaders and members of the Pattison family were able to save Fairlawn through a loophole in the will. Fairlawn Mansion has operated as a city owned museum ever since then. An award winning Victorian house museum, today it is preserved for residents and area visitors alike as a poignant reminder of Superior's heritage.
Fairlawn has been a prominent visual landmark along the shores of the Superior Bay since it was built by the Pattison family in 1890. Today it is still remembered by many who visit as the Superior Children’s Home - a refuge for poor children and unwed mothers. During this unique 42 year period the mansion underwent drastic changes in order to meet mandated codes and the needs of its residents. In 1962 the Superior Children’s Home closed its doors and Fairlawn was slated for demolition. In response to strong citizen support the City of Superior purchased the property and the old house began a third life- this time as a museum.
Through the years the City of Superior, Douglas County, the Douglas County Historical Society, and many other public and private entities invested time, labor, and money in improvements at Fairlawn. These restoration efforts at Fairlawn attracted the attention of Tom Jeffris, well known for his support of restoration at other historic buildings throughout the state. Through a generous gift from the Jeffris Foundation, matched by the City of Superior and Douglas County, a $1.6 million restoration project was begun to return Fairlawn’s exterior and first floor interior to their original splendor.