After watching an episode of Netflix’s “Amazing Vacation Rentals” that featured a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, we decided to check it out for a fun weekend. Our oldest son and his wife joined us for the adventure.
The Bernard Schwartz House, or Still Bend as Wright named it, was built in 1940. The construction was based on a plan Wright submitted for Life Magazine’s Dream Home. In his own words . . . “I think this plan recognizes it for pretty much what it is – a little private club – with special privacies, ultra conveniences and style all the while.”
Today you can rent the house to experience Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and life style first hand like the original owners. Tours are also available.
As you pull into the driveway, the front of the house is very unassuming. The front door is hidden so you’re not immediately sure where to go in. Once inside, it’s definitely Frank Lloyd Wright. The low entrance area gives way to a grand two story living and recreation room. Wright used red tidewater cypress board and batten and red brick for the interior that gives the space a warm glow, particularly at night.
The house was designed for middle-class Americans, so instead of stained-glass windows that Wright used in his wealthy clients’ homes, he used wood for his shapes and light.
Wright believed that room size and cost should be given over to the living areas so the upstairs bedrooms tend to be smaller than what we are used to today.
The present homeowner encourages guests to cook in the kitchen. Above the cupboard, there are some great reminders of the past on display. And to keep the experience more authentic, there is no microwave. We made coffee in a Chemex carafe.
Bernard Schwartz was a devoted fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, but Mrs. Schwartz – not so much. She made two requests of Wright for a linen closet in one of the bathrooms, and he declined both times to put one in the plan. In the third request, Mrs. Schwartz reminded Wright that he was working for her, and she got the closet. However, Wright located the closet in such a place that the bathroom door hit the toilet whenever it was opened, plus the door could only be opened half-way. Don’t mess with this architect.
I enjoy lighthouses, and there’s usually some to visit if you’re around the Great Lakes.
The 1886 Two Rivers Lighthouse is now on display at the local Fishing Village & Museum. There’s also ships and sculpture that reinforce the area’s maritime heritage.
Inside Point Beach State Forest, about six miles away, is the Rawley Point Lighthouse. It dates from 1894. The steel tower rises 113 feet above the lake to make it the tallest lighthouse on the Wisconsin Shore. The keeper’s house is now a privately owned residence, but the lighthouse itself is still operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Lake Michigan beach in front of the lighthouse is excellent for walking.
Over in Manitowoc, the Breakwater Lighthouse stands at the end of a long pier that you can walk out to. The building is closed but take the stairs up to the next level and enjoy the view.
Nearby, the S.S. Badger car ferry was preparing to leave at 2:00 p.m. The Badger, which began service in 1953, is the last coal-burning passenger ship in operation in the U.S. It crosses Lake Michigan in a four-hour trip and docks at Ludington, Michigan. The mighty ship can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles.
After all the lighthouses and ship viewing, we stopped at Beerntsen’s Confectionary in downtown Manitowoc. They’ve been in business since 1932, and inside, it’s a delightful step back in time with the walnut booths and decorative arches. Beerntsen’s has candy, ice cream, and light lunches. We tried something in all three categories. The egg salad sandwiches were delicious, and we followed that with ice cream sundaes and candy to go.
It was a memorable weekend to stay in a Frank Lloyd Wright home, and I’m looking forward to returning to the Two Rivers area. There’s a lot to explore on the shores of Lake Michigan.