Bernard Schwartz House: 1939
You can rent the Schwartz House! Click HERE for information.
When I first saw photos of this home, I rushed to read what Storrer said about it. I'd heard stories about it, but I wanted the facts... and Storrer's book "A Frank Lloyd Wright Companion" is the definitive factual work about Mr. Wright's work.
What I found in my reading was that Mr. Wright had written an article for Life Magazine in 1938 that talked about a house "For a Family of $5000 - $6000 Income". The house you see in these pictures is that design. It was built for Mr. Bernard Schwarz in the town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin.... near the coast of Lake Michigan, between Milwaukee and Green Bay.
Exterior View from Driveway
In the last year or so, The Schwartz house has changed ownership. I started e-mailing with the new owners a few months ago, and they talked about their intentions to open the house for rentals. They invited my wife and I to spend the night and get to know them and the Schwartz house a little better. The end result was WAYYYYY too many photos on this page. Sorry to make you look at them all.
Private Side Under Construction
Light by front door
Windows under carport
Sunken Garden and outside Fireplace
Original cypress wood
Planter at end of terrace
House from end of terrace
Private side of house
Exterior Clerestory Windows
Front Door from back door
Clerestory Windows from balcony in maid's room
Ventilation window above kitchen from carport
Carport view of front yard
Looking through the house from sunken garden
Looking through the house from bedroom
Sunken garden from bedroom balcony
Sun terrace in the evening
End of the sun terrace
Private side of the house
Private side of the house
Looking out from sun terrace
Stairs down to water
The home is a "T" plan Usonian home built on the largest square grid of any that I've seen. Referring back to Storrer, I see that it is actually a 7' square grid. Most Usonian homes have a wing set aside for service rooms and extra bedrooms. This home is a little different in that it puts those upstairs on the second floor.
Recreation room from balcony
Rec room from library
Rec room at night
Rec room in the morning
Another view of the library
More library shots
Library fireplace and book shelves
The top book shelves were added by Mr. Schwarts
Entryway. The door is to the left. The coat closet is to the right
Another view of the entry
View from coat closet
The coat closet was originally designed to be a powderroom. Its got all the plubing rough-ins
Stairs to second floor
Another view of the kitchen. Notice the light affects from the "Dating Game" light
Kitchen view from the ceiling
The dating game light
Another dating game light shot
Dining room with copies of the house plans on the table
Light in dining room hall
Light in the dinging room hall
Looking from the dining room back to recreation room
Eating breakfast in the Schwartz House
Dinging room hallway
Look into the Atrium from dining room hallway
Master Bedroom looking towards stairs
Master Bedroom nightstand table.
This dresser is orginal to the house. There are three of them in the house
Master Bath from the ceiling
Second floor you say??? On a Usonian home? It isn't entirely unusual. The Jacobs II, Boulter and other Usonian homes that I've visited have second floors. This one definitely stands out against those in its look. Rather than having the second floor as a balcony over the first, it goes along the short axis of the "T" so as not to disturb the low, flat lines of the recreation room on the main axis.
Atrium from rec room. Master Bedroom is on the right
Clerestories from balcony
Ceiling with balcony
Atrium with stairs
View of us on the balcony
I'm a geek!
Upstairs Hallway from top of the stairs
Atrium from balcony
Top of stairs
Upstairs Hall looking towards maid's room
Like many of Wright's designs of this era, the home is made of brick pillars and cypress board and batten walls. The clerestory windows make wonderful patterns on the walls and floors as the sun moves around the home. This is especially true in the area that leads to the second floor as the ceilings are so high.
Another view of our bedroom. Not much light up here at night
Looking into our bedroom. Reading in bed was NOT an option. :)
The first I'd heard of this house was in Edgar Tafel's book "Apprentice to Genius". This was the house that got him fired. He was the apprentice that was sent to supervise the construction of the Schwartz house. When it came time to build the long cantilevers, he decided that they lacked sufficient support to hold through the Wisconsin winters, so he added steel supports to the structure. He did not, however, tell Mr. Wright that he had done this. When this design was replicated for another client, Mr. Tafel warned the apprentice in charge to add steel to the cantilever for strength. When the apprentice ignored these warnings and the cantilevers sagged, Mr. Wright was furious. He pointed to the ones that Mr. Tafel had constructed as an example that they could be successfully built if the designs were followed properly. At that point Tafel had to come clean. He told Mr. Wright that he had added steel to the construction in the Schwartz house. Mr. Wright felt so betrayed that Tafel was fired on the spot. Later, Mr. Wright (at his wife, Olgivana's insistence) hired Tafel back.
Many thanks, Michael and Lisa for the invitation. For information on staying in the Schwartz House, visit their web site.
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