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It could have been a Carnegie, but it became Wright-like instead

Famed architect's influence preserved in the Lake Geneva's library

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published May 17, 2007, 2:46 p.m.)

Instead of the elegant library that graces the lakeshore in downtown Lake Geneva, imagine a tall, intimidating, gray, stone building.

It nearly happened, says Library Director Andrea Peterson.

Blueprints of a Carnegie-style building had been approved for the new Lake Geneva library in the mid-1950s.

Ethel Brann, then director of the library, spearheaded an 11th-hour effort to use the prairie-styled design of Frank Lloyd Wright protege James Dresser.

"We still have the blueprints that were almost used," Peterson said. "I think it's a real benefit that (the Wright-inspired) design was chosen over the original."

The Lake Geneva Library is one of the featured stops on the Wright and Like 2007: Prairie on the Lakes tour, sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin organization.

The tour takes place June 8-10.

The itinerary is set for seven Wrights and three likes. Others featured are the Fred B. Jones Estate on Delavan Lake-including the stable, boathouse and gatehouse-the Charles Ross Cottage, the George Spencer House, the Allyn Mansion, the Wallis Gatehouse, Arrowhead, Yerkes Observatory and Horticulture Hall.

"I don't think many people are aware of the number of Wright sites we have so close to home," said Peterson.

Tickets are available Saturday, June 9 at the town of Delavan Community Park (tour headquarters), Highway 50 and South Shore Drive, Delavan or at www.wrightinwisconsin.org. Prices are (rain or shine) $50 for members and $55 for non-members. For information, call (608) 287-0339.

Schedule of events

June 8

7-9 p.m.- Wright birthday party and talk. Horticulture Hall, 330 Broad St., Williams Bay.

June 9

9 a.m.-5 p.m.-Tours

5-8 p.m.-Wine and cheese reception at The Cove of Lake Geneva, 111 Center St., Lake Geneva.

June 10

10 a.m.-1 p.m.-Black Point Tour, brunch and boat ride.

Wright and Like tour destinations

This 1901- and 1903-built home is a design by Wright himself. It is the largest of Wright's projects in the area and has been restored to its original allure. The semi-circular porches virtually surround the house, which has five bedrooms and three fireplaces. Wright used boulders as masonry and bridges, the boathouse, gatehouse and stables are all part of the tour.


This Wright design was originally used as a summer home with four bedrooms and two fireplaces. It has a cruciform plan and board-and-batten exterior and broad overhanging eaves.

This home was built as popular Wright Prairie School home design with large overhanging eaves, a hipped roof and geometric massing and board-and-batten exterior.

Wright designed this house in 1897 with a steeply pitched roofline and half-timber gable ends.

E. Townsend Mix designed this Queen Ann-Eastlake style house has been meticulously restored to its original condition, winning it the Grand Prize from the National Trust in its Great American Home Awards. Today it is used as a bed and breakfast.

The Romanesque style building and observatory is known for its contributions in astrophysics, education and engineering and was designed by Henry Ives Cobb.

James Dresser, a student of Wright, designed the prairie style library with Roman brick, red oak and immense glass areas. The building combines beauty and utility, making it both practical and a showpiece that blends into its park setting. Library staff will be not available after 1 p.m. on June 6.

This fine arts and crafts structure was built by several owners of the large estates on Geneva Lake so that the results of their gardeners' labors, and farmers of the region, could receive a wide audience and recognition of their accomplishments. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Place and was designed by Spencer and Powers.

Ken Dahlin designed this home inspired by Wright's Hanna house in Palo Alto, Calif. It takes advantage of lake views with large expanses of glass that are complemented by the warmth of interior brick walls and generous living spaces.



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