Friday, July 10, 2020 / by Erik Bjorklund
It features Wright trademarks like a long horizontal roof and clerestory windows.
Location: Wausau, Wisconsin
This small town of around 40,000 people is a two-hour drive north of Madison, Wisconsin, and about one and a half hours west of Green Bay. The Wisconsin River runs straight through Wausau and is its most important feature — a place to swim, fish, canoe, and kayak in the town’s white-water park. 1224 Highland Park Boulevard sits in the East Hill neighborhood, a mile northeast of the town’s historic river district and quaint lineup of Tudor Revival and Victorian Gothic storefronts. Despite the small-town feel, Wausau also boasts a few big-city amenities, like the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum (just a few blocks from the house) and the 29-acre Monk Botanical Gardens located just to the north.
Specs: 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,462 square feet, 0.58 acres (an adjacent 0.34-acre lot is included in the sale)
There’s no shortage of Frank Lloyd Wright Usonians in the Midwest, but the Charles and Dorothy Manson House is one of the earliest examples of the style. Designed in 1938 and completed in 1941, the home features Wright trademarks like a long horizontal roof, windows with perforated panels, and clerestory lighting in the kitchen and hallways. The home’s red hue comes from red tidewater cypress used on both the exterior and interior in a board-and-batten design, mixed in with local red Ringle bricks. Wright pioneered radiant-heating systems in his designs, and originally the Manson home had radiant floors, too. But according to the current owners, that system failed around 40 years ago, and the house now features more modern baseboard heating. Other updates include a rubber-roofing system, a remodeled kitchen, and two restored fireplaces.
Notable feature: 30- and 60-degree angles
When Wright first developed his Usonian designs and theories on organic architecture, he favored right-angle corners and square shapes. In an effort to further unify the Manson House with its environment (the site’s topography slopes down from the street level to a wooded ravine), Wright experimented by adding 30- and 60-degree angles to the exterior walls and in the ceiling angles. This means that while the house doesn’t have the typical I- or L-shaped floor plan of other Usonians, it does hint at Wright’s future use of triangles, parallelograms, and even curves.