According to the Penfield family, Louis and Pauline Penfield were touring Wright’s studio in Wisconsin in 1952 when they had a chance encounter with the famous architect—so the story begins.
Louis, who was astoundingly tall (six-foot-eight), challenged Wright by asking him if he could design a house for an inhabitant as tall as himself.
Wright took up the challenge, and six months later, Louis received a draft for the Penfield House in the mail.
The rendering included high ceilings, narrow stairs with wide steps, and 16 thin ribbon windows—an unusual feature that accentuated Louis’ tall frame.
Along with its interesting backstory, the purchase of the house also includes the blueprints for Wright’s final, un-built residential commission: a house named Riverrock, which Wright designed in 1959 for a section of the same lot that the Louis Penfield House occupies.
Should they choose to, the new owners can use the blueprints to build Riverrock according to Wright’s specifications.
The house is on a heavily wooded, 30-acre plot on a rise overlooking the Chagrin River.
It was built with heavy, textured concrete blocks and deeply raked horizontal mortar. Since its creation, it's been restored while preserving the original Usonian style.
In the living room, floor-to-ceiling glass walls offer panoramic views of the Chagrin River and the bluffs in the distance, while the interiors are filled with furniture that Wright designed for the house.
A floating wooden staircase, one of the many elements of the house that are inspired by Japanese minimalism, leads up to the bedrooms.
Many of the architectural details and furnishings were made with a striking Black Cherry hardwood, along with other materials from nature.
The kitchen counter was constructed using a tree that once stood 50 yards from the house that was uprooted during a storm.
The floor heating system is fueled by two natural gas wells that sit on the property.
For more information, contact Karen Eagle at 440-772-6187.
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