Own a Private Island With a Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed House For $12.9M

Add to
Like
Share
By Lucy Wang
Fifty miles north of New York City, a private island with a controversial home and guesthouse built from Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawings seeks a new buyer.

Originally listed for $20 million, the Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired Massaro House on the 11-acre Petra Island in Lake Mahopac, New York, has recently lowered its asking price to $12,900,000.

The multimillion-dollar price tag not only includes an expansive 5,000-square-foot residence, but also the heart-shaped private island, a helipad—the home is a 15-minute helicopter ride from Manhattan—a guesthouse, and a teahouse. 

Petra Island is only accessible via boat and helicopter. Massaro purchased the island for $700,000 in 1996.

Petra Island is only accessible via boat and helicopter. Massaro purchased the island for $700,000 in 1996.

Newsletter
Join the Daily Dose Newsletter

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design

The Massaro House is a 15-minute helicopter ride from Manhattan.

The Massaro House is a 15-minute helicopter ride from Manhattan.

The property also comes with a controversial Frank Lloyd Wright connection.

Although Frank Lloyd Wright did not have a direct hand in the final design and construction of the Massaro House, the blueprints for the dwelling are based on the original sketches he had created in 1950 for Ahmed Chahroudi, the former Petra Island owner who, due to prohibitive building costs, ended up turning down Wright’s proposal. Instead, Chahroudi asked Wright to blueprint a smaller 1,200-square-foot cottage, now used as a guesthouse.

A labor of love, the Massaro House is perched on the island’s rocky tip, just as Wright originally intended.

A labor of love, the Massaro House is perched on the island’s rocky tip, just as Wright originally intended.

The 28-foot-long section cantilevered over the lake is believed to be the longest that Wright ever envisioned. It's nearly double the length of the 15-foot cantilevers in Fallingwater.

The 28-foot-long section cantilevered over the lake is believed to be the longest that Wright ever envisioned. It's nearly double the length of the 15-foot cantilevers in Fallingwater.

In 1996, retired contractor Joseph Massaro purchased Petra Island, which included the sale of the sketches: one floor plan, three elevations, and a perspective drawing. With the help of architect and Wright historian Thomas A. Heinz and 3D modeling software, Massaro spent four years of construction time and an untold sum to bring to life Frank Lloyd Wright’s unrealized design—a project Wright had reportedly hoped would surpass Fallingwater in size and grandeur.

The naturally occurring "whale rock", a key part of Wright's sketches, cuts into the dramatic entry hall that's bathed in natural light. The massive rock measures 12 feet in height and 60 feet in length.

The naturally occurring "whale rock", a key part of Wright's sketches, cuts into the dramatic entry hall that's bathed in natural light. The massive rock measures 12 feet in height and 60 feet in length.

The 26 triangular skylights—covering a total area of 1,500 square feet—in the home are domed, although Wright would most likely have chosen flat skylights. Massaro reportedly said he did not choose flat skylights due to their propensity to leak.

The 26 triangular skylights—covering a total area of 1,500 square feet—in the home are domed, although Wright would most likely have chosen flat skylights. Massaro reportedly said he did not choose flat skylights due to their propensity to leak.

Yet the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has refused to recognize the Massaro House and even sued Massaro, who is only allowed to use the phrase "inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright" with regards to the home. Previously, Massaro reportedly turned down the Foundation’s $450,000 offer to supervise construction.

A smaller "tail rock" off of the "whale rock" makes an appearance in the kitchen.

A smaller "tail rock" off of the "whale rock" makes an appearance in the kitchen.

All woodwork was custom-built to Wright's specifications from African mahogany.

All woodwork was custom-built to Wright's specifications from African mahogany.

Despite Massaro’s painstaking efforts to stay true to the original designs, Wright purists have taken issue with the property and lobbied criticisms that range from asserting all posthumous Wright projects are inauthentic to attacking deviations from the architect’s style, such as the use of domed skylights rather than the flat skylights Wright designed. According to Massaro, changes were typically made due to necessity—flat skylights tend to leak—or to meet modern comforts and building codes.

The master bedroom overlooks panoramic views of the lake.

The master bedroom overlooks panoramic views of the lake.

Massaro spent untold sums to bring Wright's vision to life, but modified it for modern living. Air conditioning and radiant heating, not specified in Wright's sketches, were added.

Massaro spent untold sums to bring Wright's vision to life, but modified it for modern living. Air conditioning and radiant heating, not specified in Wright's sketches, were added.

Without certification from the Foundation, the Massaro House isn’t officially a Frank Lloyd Wright home. However, the seven-bedroom, 3.5-bath property is undeniably unique and fully embraces Wright’s dramatic style of bringing the outdoors in.

An estimated 150 tons of concrete were poured to make the floors, walls, and some of the walls.

An estimated 150 tons of concrete were poured to make the floors, walls, and some of the walls.

The walls studded with locally sourced granite rocks throughout the home are meant to be in the likeness of Wright's "desert masonry" style but have garnered criticism from purists who say the rocks should sit flush. Massaro says that was impossible due to building codes and insulation requirements.

The walls studded with locally sourced granite rocks throughout the home are meant to be in the likeness of Wright's "desert masonry" style but have garnered criticism from purists who say the rocks should sit flush. Massaro says that was impossible due to building codes and insulation requirements.

Massaro hired Connecticut craftsmen to create the Wrightian furnishings, doors, and windows.

Massaro hired Connecticut craftsmen to create the Wrightian furnishings, doors, and windows.

The Massaro House main residence includes three bedrooms.

The Massaro House main residence includes three bedrooms.

A look inside one of the secondary bedrooms.

A look inside one of the secondary bedrooms.

Massive stones have also been embedded into the guest bathroom.

Massive stones have also been embedded into the guest bathroom.

A view inside the cantilevered great room that terminates with a double-sided fireplace.

A view inside the cantilevered great room that terminates with a double-sided fireplace.

The tip of the cantilevered section is an outdoor living area with a double-sided fireplace.

The tip of the cantilevered section is an outdoor living area with a double-sided fireplace.

Massaro used custom-made machines to recreate the Wrightian bas-relief copper paneled eaves.

Massaro used custom-made machines to recreate the Wrightian bas-relief copper paneled eaves.

The decks span an area of 2,000 square feet.

The decks span an area of 2,000 square feet.

When Wright created the initial sketches for the property at 83, he had hoped the house would surpass Fallingwater.

When Wright created the initial sketches for the property at 83, he had hoped the house would surpass Fallingwater.

Wright's sketches called for an external stair off of the cantilevered section. Massaro nixed the stairs due to modern building codes.

Wright's sketches called for an external stair off of the cantilevered section. Massaro nixed the stairs due to modern building codes.

The house also comes with a dock.

The house also comes with a dock.

The guesthouse, located across the lawn, houses three bedrooms.

The guesthouse, located across the lawn, houses three bedrooms.

An bird's-eye view of the Massaro House.

An bird's-eye view of the Massaro House.

1 Petra Island, Carmel, NY is now being listed by Margaret Harrington of Douglas Elliman Real Estate for $12,900.000. See the full listing here.

Know of a home for sale or rent that should be featured on Dwell.com? Find out how to submit your property. 

Shop Frank Lloyd Wright Designs