By Jeniece Smith
You can tour some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best creations across southern Wisconsin, but did you know you can also pillow your head in a home where the famous architect slept or designed?
From a farmhouse where Wright lived as a boy to one of the last homes commissioned before his death, step back in time and into the mind of the man hailed by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time.”
Aldebaran Farm, 1861 – Spring Green
Born in Richland Center in 1867, Wright spent his boyhood summers living and working on his uncle’s farm in nearby Spring Green. From an upstairs window in the main house, the young architect-to-be could see the sites of many of the properties he would design, including that of the personal home and studio he would build in 1911, Taliesin.
Wright’s son-in-law and architectural acolyte, William Wesley Peters, renovated the farmhouse in the 1960s and named it Aldebaran, which means “the follower” in Arabic. The home has two fireplaces and sits on 18 acres, surrounded by some of the farm’s original outbuildings.
Today, this historic house is available to groups of up to a dozen people for two-night to weeklong stays, as well as for small events.
Schwartz House, 1939 – Two Rivers
Inspired by an architectural collaboration with LIFE Magazine to create a modern “dream home” for the typical American family, Wright designed this private dwelling for Two Rivers residents Bernard and Fern Schwartz.
Wright planned out the elements of the home and property down to the finest details, from furniture to landscaping. He called his completed creation “Still Bend” for its peaceful setting on a marshy curve of the East Twin River.
Groups of up to eight people can rent the four-bedroom, 2 ½-bath house for a two-night minimum, and the property also is available for tours and events like weddings and corporate retreats.
Seth Peterson Cottage, 1958 – Lake Delton
This little wood and stone treasure, which Peters described as boasting more architecture per square foot than any other building, was Wright’s final Wisconsin creation and one of the last few structures he designed before his death.
Black Earth native Seth Peterson, a longtime admirer of Wright’s work, requested a small abode with just enough room for him and his fiancée, and the architect didn’t disappoint with this 880-square-foot marvel near Wisconsin Dells, perched at the edge of a wooded bluff above Mirror Lake.
Wright passed away in 1959 before the cottage was finished, and 24-year-old Peterson tragically took his own life the following year. A Milwaukee family briefly owned the home in the 1960s before selling the property to the state of Wisconsin to be part of the new Mirror Lake State Park.
The cottage sat vacant until the late 1980s, when a group of residents and Wright fans formed the Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy with the goal of rehabilitating the structure. After undergoing an extensive renovation to restore the damage done by time and complete some still-unfinished design elements, the cottage became the first Wright home ever available for overnight rental.
More than 10,000 people have stayed in the cottage in the years since, with monthly tours also offered. Groups of up to four people can rent the cottage for a two-night minimum, with occasional one-night stays offered when they fall between other reservations.
Looking for more Frank Lloyd Wright fun? Check out this four-day itinerary of his greatest Wisconsin works!