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Friday, November 25, 2005

Web log remembers the Geneva Inn

It didn't take long after I began covering stories in Lake Geneva nearly 15 years ago that I heard about the Geneva Inn.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's hotel on the shores of Geneva Lake was demolished in 1970, and is now the site of the Geneva Towers.

I'm one of those who regrets not having been able to see the Lake Geneva Inn in person, however there are still plenty of people from town who remember it's decay and eventual demise.

Some of their comments on the Inn were posted this week on the Racine Journal Times' Wright in Racine blog, written by director of photography Mark Hertzberg.

Wright has a rich history in Racine, and Hertzberg has spent the last several years chronicling Wright's accomplishments.

A Web site of his work is on the Journal Times Web site.

You can also order Hertzberg's book, "Wright in Racine" from

We've mentioned the Inn in stories in The Week from time to time, but outside of first person accounts like Charlotte Peterson's, who Hertzberg quotes, there's not much of a written record.

I've seen only a few photographs of the place. I believe the Geneva Lake Area Museum of History has some of the only photographs that I know of.

There is some good news for Frank Lloyd Wright lovers in Walworth County, however.

You may have heard that Susan and John Major, who own the Fred B. Jones Estate, known as Penwern, on Delavan Lake were honored last month for their restoration of the estate. The honor comes from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC) based in LA.

According to a news item we ran last month, the Majors bought the main part of the estate in 1994 and purchased a separately owned parcel of the land, which included the gatehouse in 2000.

Restoration of the main home was completed in 2000; the gatehouse restoration was completed in 2002, with restoration of the stable completed in 1998. The restoration of the boathouse was completed this year.

The boathouse is one of only three Wright structures "designed with undisguised Japanese details," (primarily in the rooflines) as stated in the application for both the Wisconsin and National Registers of Historic Places submitted in 1974.


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