The Harper House, a Lake Michigan-fronting residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is for sale and in need of a new owner for the first time in over two decades. The four-bedroom abode hit the market late last month and has been carefully restored and modernized by its current owners in close cooperation with Chicago’s Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy; the property is selling for a cool $1.96 million.
Named after Dr. Ina Moriss Harper, a pioneering local pediatrician who commissioned Wright to design the L-shaped lakeside residence but tragically died only a few years after its completion, the Harper House is situated in St. Joseph, a quaint southwest Michigan beach town in an area referred to (by the town) as the “Riviera of the Midwest.” Although some sources give conflicting information, the 1950 project is the earlier of two Wright-designed homes in St. Joseph, preceding the better-known Carl Schultz House. That Usonian-style residence was designed in 1957 and completed in 1959 as Wright’s final Michigan project.
Populating a diminutive .42-acre lakefront lot but boasting lake views (an attribute that the Schultz House lacks), the footprint of the Harper House was originally more modest at only 1,700 square feet. Prior to its current owners, Gina Flamm and Arthur Wolak, taking over 25 years ago and executing a series of extensive yet respectful renovations, the home was significantly enlarged to its current 3,150 square foot size. It gained two additional bedrooms and another full bathroom in an expansion project led by Wright apprentice and Taliesin faculty member Charles Montooth, according to the Frank Lloyd Foundation. Upgrades carried out over the last 20-some years include repairs to the roof (the home has a combination of flat, pitched, and angled rooflines), a major kitchen revamp, new skylights, and the installation of a security system along with energy- and water-efficient appliances and fixtures.
As detailed by the foundation, the modernized home functions as a sort of late-period Wright showcase with all of his signature design elements present and accounted for: banquette seating, recessed lighting, mitered glass corners, board and batten walls, built-ins aplenty, stained-glass entry doors, walls of windows, tidewater cypress woodwork, and a Chicago brick statement fireplace that anchors the home. Included in the turnkey sale, listed by Ann Gain with @properties, is a full-sized reproduction of Wright’s Sprite sculpture designed for Chicago’s long-gone Midway Gardens, a Baldwin grand piano, and numerous works of art and custom-designed furnishings.
“To live in the Harper House has been one of the great joys of our lives,” Flamm recently told Dwell. “It has brought so much pleasure from the sheer beauty of the architecture, both inside and out, and gratitude that we have been able to experience all this for 25 years.”
Plenty more images of the Harper House, inside and out, can be found on the official listing page.