Wright Fans Will Rejoice in These Rentable Midwestern Masterpieces
By Kristan Schiller
There are scores of opportunities to tour mansions, estates and other historically preserved sites in the U.S. that serve as prime examples of classic American architecture and design. But how often does one get to lodge in such places? A handful of Frank Lloyd Wright–designed homes can be booked for overnight stays—an opportunity that fans of design, nature and American history won’t want to miss (caveat: availability is limited and most homes require a two-night minimum stay; be ready to reserve several months in advance).
All of these are located in the Midwest, not far from Wright’s Oak Park home and studio in Illinois and his Taliesin home in Wisconsin. After a sojourn at one of these architectural gems—not to mention during the road trip in your head-turning Chevy Malibu—you, too, may feel (as Wright did) that “space is the breath of art.”
Seth Peterson Cottage
Lake Delton, Wisconsin
This tiny one-bedroom cottage—which boasts a wall of windows overlooking Wisconsin’s Mirror Lake—was one of Wright’s last commissions. In 1989, a group of local residents formed a grass-roots campaign to undertake a $300,000 restoration, finished in 1992, the 125th anniversary of Wright’s birth. Rental rates start at $250 per night for a maximum of four people, though the property sleeps two comfortably.
Louis Penfield House
A three-bedroom Usonian home in wooded Willoughby (about 20 minutes east of downtown Cleveland), the Louis Penfield House was rehabbed in the early 2000’s by the initial owner’s son and his wife. Set on preserving the ambiance of a house rather than fostering the atmosphere of a museum, the Penfields don’t give daily tours. To see it, you must actually live in it. Rates start at $275 per night for up to five people.
Lovingly moved from its original Illinois location and rebuilt by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in Pennsylvania—about half an hour from the “tourable” Fallingwater—Duncan House shares the 100-acre Polymath Park with three other homes for rent, designed by Wright’s protégés. With its secluded setting off a country road, horizontal red stripes on a yellow exterior and cathedral-ceiling living room, this house is quintessential Wright. Nightly rates for the three-bedroom home start at $399, depending on the number of guests.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
John D. Haynes, an insurance salesman, is said to have commissioned one of Wright’s best designs. With its sweeping cypress ceiling and cantilevered brick fireplace, the home includes a music room and three bedrooms that form a T-shape when viewed from afar. Outside, there is gabled roofing and inside, a trove of furniture that Wright originally designed for the house. The nightly rate of $300 is for a maximum of four people.
Bernard Schwartz House
Two Rivers, Wisconsin
Also known as Still Bend, the sparkling Bernard Schwartz House boasts wraparound seating, geometrically patterned clerestory windows, and a towering interior balcony. Another odd but interesting feature; this historic home is thought to have the oldest, continuously operating in-floor heating system in the U.S. Nightly rates start for this four-bedroom home, which sleeps a maximum of eight, start at $295 per night.
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Kristan Schiller is a New York-based travel writer and blogger whose articles have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Fodor’s, as well as on Forbestraveler.com and Salon.com.