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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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