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The Wright Kind of Stay

Take your design yen to the next level with a stay in one of the landmarks designed by Midwest legend Frank Lloyd Wright.

Paddling Mirror Lake in the 1980s, Audrey Laatsch reached for some leaves that had drifted into her canoe—and flipped it. She dragged her boat to shore and decided to hike up the bluff to a boarded-up property.

Audrey, a therapist who owned a cottage nearby, knew that Frank Lloyd Wright had designed the home and that the DNR had acquired it in 1966 as part of a land purchase for a state park. She and her neighbors had watched it deteriorate, wondering how such a treasure could lie neglected. It was the tipped canoe, she would say, that convinced her to spearhead the cottage rehab and start a nonprofit for its care.

Today, the Seth Peterson Cottage is one of a handful of Wright-designed residences available for overnight rental. Peter Rott, a graduate of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, volunteers with the cottage’s conservancy. “Audrey is the heroine of our story,” he says. “Every building needs a hero like that.”

Seth Peterson Cottage exterior

Seth Peterson Cottage. Photo: Kit Hogan

Hidden in Mirror Lake State Park outside of Lake Delton, Wisconsin, it’s one of Wright’s smallest homes, a tidy 880-square-foot hideaway for two. (Seth Peterson and his intended bride never lived here, given his untimely death at age 24.) Its open floor plan and soaring ceiling feel spacious, and walls of windows wash the living area with light. Stonework resembles the Wisconsin River valley bluffs that Wright explored as a boy—the very landscape that inspired Prairie School architecture. 

There’s a complimentary canoe down by the lake so you can paddle out in tribute to Audrey. 

Stay Rentals run $275 to $325 per night and book out two to six months ahead. But watch the calendar: Cancellations occasionally happen.

Tour The conservancy offers tours each month ($15).

Seth Peterson Cottage interior

Seth Peterson Cottage. Photo: Kit Hogan

More Wright for the night

A duplex on Milwaukee’s South Side shares a block with five other Wright-designed homes—test models for architect-drawn properties Wright and a colleague developed for the “working man.” Just 6 miles from downtown, this Burnham Park home sleeps nine. From $212/night.

The Bernard Schwartz House (aka Still Bend) overlooks a river marsh in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, a vacation town on Lake Michigan. Built in Wright’s Usonian, or American, style for middle-income families, it accommodates up to eight. From $395/night.

The Emil Bach House in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood north of downtown reflects what Wright could do on a compact city lot. It’s walkable to the big lake, but you might not want to leave the backyard patio and Japanese tearoom. It hosts six overnight and 125 for indoor-outdoor events. From $400/night.

The Historic Park Inn in Mason City, Iowa, is the world's only surviving Wright-designed hotel. Choose from 27 guest rooms, all different. From $114/night. 

 

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