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.  

Exterior view

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

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

Sun Terrace

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

Recreation Room

Recreation room from balcony

Rec room from library

Rec room at night

Rec room

Rec room

Rec room


Rec room in the morning



Another view of the library

More library shots

Ceiling light

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


Kitchen Ceiling

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

Master Bath from the ceiling

Master bath


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

Hallway desk

Clerestory windows

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.  

Clerestory Windows

Maid's Room

Our bedroom

Another view of our bedroom. Not much light up here at night

Looking into our bedroom. Reading in bed was NOT an option. :)

Jr's Bedroom

Upstairs Bathroom

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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