Wright designed the Spring Green Restaurant in 1953, intending it to be owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and to serve visitors to the area, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society, which announced the building's addition to the state list on Friday.
The masonry and stucco-clad structure, designed in the Usonian style when Wright was 86 years old, now serves as the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center for Taliesin, Wright's Wisconsin home near Spring Green, WI. The Taliesin Gift Shop and the Cafe are now housed in the restaurant building, which offers sweeping views of the Wisconsin River.
Although it has been modified over the years, the building maintains its original low profile and massive chimney, according to the WHS. Construction of the restaurant began under Wright's direction in 1957.
The State Register is the official list of properties in Wisconsin deemed significant to the state's heritage.
In the early ’60s, Francis Mechner, a behavioral scientist, began seeing his fellow academics buy houses in Usonia, a tract of warm, modern homes in Westchester County, New York, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and his disciples. In 1966, he decided to join them. He and his wife, Vicki, settled on the Bier House, a home designed by the Wright-trained Kaneji Domoto, with a terrace that circled a tree. They adored the home, which is still in the family, but a few years later found themselves outgrowing it, with a fourth child on the way. Meanwhile, Francis had spotted something that entranced him in another house in Usonia — an indoor pool that doubled as a hothouse garden.
He wondered if he could build a house from scratch that had a similar indoor-pool-slash-garden but also a bedroom for each child. His vision evolved when, at a car dealership, he saw a glass dome. Maybe the pool could be round and topped by a circular dome, he thought. And maybe the house could spiral around it. He loved the idea of how, if he stood in the living room, he could look one way and see a tropical garden and look the other way and see a wintry landscape. “That was my original conception,” Francis says. Fortunately, Vicki shared his vision, and they hired an upstart architect named John Koster to carry it out. When a broker took them to the land, a three-mile drive north, pheasants scattered. “It was wilderness,”Francis says. “Magnificent, ancient forest with rocks and crags and precipices and streams.”
They chose a rocky outcropping for the foundation and used natural materials, building a home out of oak. The living areas peeled around half the pool, with broad windows into both the terrarium and the outdoors, as he’d envisioned. The bedrooms occupied a two-story wing off the kitchen, with four down a half-flight, through a TV room, and four up a half-flight, through a library. The library’s central, high placement was deliberate — pulling everyone through, wowing them with sun, then tempting them into a raised reading nook that peered over the dome. There was also a room dedicated to art and another for ongoing, always active games.
Listed by Amy Via, Houlihan Lawrence, the 7 bedrooms, 4 full bathrooms, 2 half-baths with Indoor pool, sauna, wraparound deck, pellet stove, on 8.86 acres of land is asking $1.9 million.
A major donation of historic objects by the Graycliff Conservancy Board of Directors to the University at Buffalo Libraries will add to the university’s already extensive Frank Lloyd Wright collection, further establishing UB as the most comprehensive source in Western New York for research materials related to the celebrated architect and his creative process.
Over 370 objects originally owned by Darwin D. and Isabelle Martin, who commissioned Wright to build Graycliff, their summer home in Derby, New York, will be housed in the University Archives.
The Martins’ granddaughter, Margaret Foster, gifted the artifacts to the conservancy over many years. Margaret’s daughter, Betsy Mudra, made additional donations following her mother’s death.
Collectively, the historical materials, some of which had been deposited with the University Archives since 1999, consist of textiles, such as the family’s quilts, napkins and table coverings, with additional materials that include blueprints, sketches, manuscripts, photographs, diaries, memorandum books, business and family correspondence, and genealogical records concerning the Martins and their children, Dorothy and Darwin R. Martin.
“We’re grateful to the Graycliff Conservancy for making this donation to the university, the culmination of a 24-year relationship which began with the conservancy’s first deposit of historical artifacts,” says Hope Dunbar, university archivist. “All of these impactful pieces help create a single curated repository point at UB for researchers exploring Wright’s work and legacy, but also for enthusiasts interested in learning more about him, his buildings in the Western New York region, and how he worked with clients.”
Designed in 1926 and built over four years beginning in 1927, Graycliff consists of three Wright-designed structures and gardens spread over roughly 8 acres of land above a cliff on the Lake Erie shore, 17 miles southwest of Buffalo, New York. A Roman Catholic teaching order purchased the property in 1951 and modified the buildings and grounds to accommodate a boarding school. Falling enrollment led to the school’s closing in 1997. Local preservationists formed the nonprofit, volunteer Graycliff Conservancy that same year to purchase the complex and begin the process of restoring Wright’s original design. Today, Graycliff serves as a cultural education center and public museum.
All of the Wright-related material in University Archives is accessible to the public. But as with all the archives’ collections, guests are strongly encouraged to make an appointment prior to their visit. This is especially true of the Graycliff donation, which consists of many fragile items with associated preservation concerns.
“It is a huge weight off our organization’s shoulders to know that these specific objects will not only be properly cared for, but accessible, with a reach far greater than what our organization can offer,” says Anna Kaplan, Graycliff executive director. “By transferring ownership of these objects, we are strengthening a partnership with UB and I look forward to continuing to work together to further the interest in scholarship related to Darwin and Isabelle Martin and Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo.”
Selections from the new Graycliff collection will be available online in the spring, adding to several existing digital collections on Wright and the Martin family. More information on the collections is available here.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s final residential design, the Norman Lykes House in Phoenix, Arizona, has been on and off the market since it was listed for $7.95 million in 2020. Now, the owners of the property are no longer seeking a new sole owner in the traditional sense. In fact, a collection of fresh owners may just fit the bill. The property’s listing agent, Deanna Peters, confirmed to AD the home is being offered as a fractional sale, allowing six people to buy into the iconic home for $1.5 million each.
“I do think there exists a group of wonderful people who are Frank Lloyd Wright fans who genuinely want to own a portion of the house with others and work cooperatively to preserve it, update it properly, and enjoy it,” Peters tells AD over email. According to her, the home will close in escrow when all six buyers are confirmed and have signed either a tenants in common agreement or formed an LLC. Potential owners will have the opportunity to meet one another beforehand and will be required to rent the home for a month prior to purchasing in order to do their due diligence. “The owner is offering reduced rent to them and will credit that sum back at closing,” Peters adds.
Though co-ownership has existed for decades, it has grown in popularity in recent years, explains Austin Allison, the CEO and cofounder of Pacaso Homes, a luxury second home platform that specializes in co-ownership properties. “Fractional ownership experienced unprecedented demand over the last few years due to the pandemic and the permanent shift towards remote work, and we suspect this flexibility to continue to feed second-home growth as buyers have more flexibility to spend time away from the traditional definition of the office,” Allison tells AD over email.
According to Allison, one of the biggest benefits to co-ownership is the removed entry barrier for people interested in a second home or vacation property. “For communities, co-ownership means less competition for single-family homes, more spending at local businesses, and more tax revenue,” he adds. The downside, however, can be the lack of autonomy when it comes to the residence. “The drawback for some people could be time and scheduling, as you don’t own 100% of the home, you don’t get 100% of the calendar. A buyer who plans to use their second home for more than half of the year may find that a whole home is a better fit for their needs.”
The Norman Lykes house last sold in November of 2019 following a no-reserve auction for a little over $1.6 million, according to the Zillow listing. In November of 2020, it was listed for sale for $7.95 million before being briefly pulled from the market in October of 2022 and relisted at $8.95 million in January of this year.
Currently, the Wright-designed residence is used as a rental property and is available for guests to book through platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Peters says that following the joint sale, the new owners could continue to rent out the property should they want, enjoy it as a collective second home, or offer it as an event space, among multiple possibilities. Should a single owner be interested in purchasing the home in full, that offer is still on the table as well.