N 42° 42.987 W 087° 46.940
16T E 435940 N 4729624
Quick Description: Racine's "kooky" Prairie house overlooking Lake Michigan...
Location: Wisconsin, United States
Date Posted: 11/2/2007 9:04:57 PM
Waymark Code: WM2H0V
The Hardy House, built for an attorney is unimpressive when seen from the street, appearing to be just another compact Prairie design complete with hipped roof and gathered windows. But the side that faces Lake Michigan is quite vertical and is the first instance where Wright designed a two-story space, the living room which is expressed on the exterior. Over the years, the view of and from the lakefront has been largely obscured by trees. In the early 1970s, the city of Racine filled in a nearby breakwater and the beach and adjacent land below the house were lost, leaving only a narrow rocky strip of land .
The Hardy House stands in stark contrast to the classical designs of its turn-of-the-century neighbors. The house is also different from many of Wright's prairie designs in that it is embedded into the bluff, is built vertically up and down the hillside, and has a partial basement. The design of the seven art glass windows on the first floor facing the street is an abstraction of the floorplan of the house itself . The terrace was altered around 1941 when the recreation room was added next to the basement.
As with many of Wright's designs, the Hardy house has not been universally understood. Some like industrialist H.F. Johnson, Sr., thought it was a “kooky” house and expected it to “fall into the lake” . While others, possibly because of its symmetrical layout and dual entrances, mistook it for a beach bathhouse and came to the house wanting to change into their bathing suits. A former resident, who grew up in the house, recalls one year when Halloween pranksters painted “Men” and “Women” on the stucco entryways.
Wright artifacts have not always enjoyed the demand that they do today. The Hardys sold some of the Wright-designed furniture including a dining room set to the Sporrers, the second owners, for $75 in 1940. The Sporrers in turn donated the dining room furniture to a thrift store after they sold the house in 1947, because they couldn't find anyone who wanted it.
Mark Hertzberg, the author of the books Wright in Racine and Frank Lloyd Wright's Hardy House, has addressed a situation many a Frank Lloyd Wright house admirer and homeowner has faced—people’s desire to get a close and personal look at the private homes Frank Lloyd Wright designed. In a fascinating, recent article for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Quarterly , Hertzberg shares the experiences of Jim and Margaret Yoghourtjian, the sixth owners of the Hardy House. Since they bought the house in 1968, they have received almost 200 letters—from 23 states and five foreign countries regarding the house. The Yoghourtjians had early warning about the endless requests they could expect from people who wanted to tour their home when they received a note from Jack Pfisterer six weeks after they bought the house from him, “Hi: Hope you are enjoying the house—and the visitors it brings to your door.” The Yoghourtjians had initially welcomed visitors. However, over time they began to value their privacy more and more. Jim Yoghourtjian said he finally learned to deal with unannounced visitors by telling people, “I’m just the caretaker. I don’t know anything about the house .”
Year Completed: 1905
Commissioned By: Thomas Hardy
Nearest City or Town: Racine, WI
Tours Available?: Not Listed
Website: Not listed
There are no specific visit requirements, however telling about your visit is strongly encouraged. Additional photos of the building or house to add to the gallery are also nice, but not required. Pictures with a GPS or you in them is highly discouraged.