Craig Adelman knows his family home like the back of his hand, but it wasn’t until later in life that he learned Frank Lloyd Wright had designed it.
“[Wright] used to come in with his cape and his hat – I used to wonder who he was,” Adelman recalls of the architect, who oversaw every aspect of the home’s 1948 construction. Wright even insisted, a month and a half after the Adelmans moved in, that they replace the 40 birch-veneer doors installed throughout the house because his design called for cypress.
All that attention to detail paid off, though. Adelman’s late parents, Albert and Edith, soon came to love the 3,000-square-foot Fox Point house. And when Adelman inherited the home from them, he knew that he wanted to make it his own while remaining true to Wright’s original vision. So he hired Kubala Washatko Architects – a Cedarburg firm that had previously designed an addition to Wright’s First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison – to restore its interior and expand its exterior, adding a pool and a 700-square-foot pool house, and enlarging the patio.
The expansion (including pool and patio) about “doubles the size of the house,” says architect Allen Washatko, who completed the three-year renovation project in 2014. Now Adelman enjoys reading in his new lanai under the glow of soft lights, and he swims in the pool daily from March to November, weather permitting.
Washatko used “geometry established by Wright” to inform the additions he made, inside and out. The restoration proved to be more of a challenge, necessitating the removal and replacement of the original red-stained concrete flooring to fix extensive water damage.
Minor setbacks notwithstanding, he and Adelman both see the project as a success, an homage to Wright’s Prairie School ideals that beautifully blends historic and contemporary design elements. ◆