A 1936 Frank Lloyd Wright-Inspired Home in Madison, Wisconsin, Seeks $900K
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A 1936 Frank Lloyd Wright-Inspired Home in Madison, Wisconsin, Seeks $900K

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By Kathryn M.
The Porter Butts House was designed by William Kaeser, a prominent local architect and noted Wright contemporary.

The College Hills Historic District, part of the woodsy Shorewood Hills neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin, is known as containing the most architecturally significant collection of residential buildings in the area. 

So named because of its historical home to many professors from the nearby University of Wisconsin, the College Hills district is essentially a survey of architectural styles—from Arts and Crafts, Prairie School, and Craftsman, to Period Revival, Modern, and International.

With streets named after American or English colleges, the College Hills Historic District earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Within the Historic District, this home at 2900 Hunter Hill Road is known as the Mary Lou and Porter F. Butts House.

Most homes in College Hills were built by prominent local architects in the early-to-mid-20th-century. One such property at 2900 Hunter Hill, historically known as the Mary Lou and Porter F. Butts House, was built in 1936/37 by William Kaeser. An admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, Kaeser was quoted around this time as proclaiming his own intent to "return [architecture] to its organic and creative basis."

Although remodeled in 2018, the home retains much of Kaeser's original design, including an entryway patio built around a large oak tree. The home's low-rising wood and stone facade, now restored, is a nod to Wright's Prairie House design style.

While not a student of Wright's Taliesin School of Architecture, Kaeser focused on incorporating many of the same organic principles into his own designs. Specifically, Kaeser focused on blending his homes with their natural environment—including the Butts home, which was designed to wrap around an old oak tree and frame views of the heavily wooden .38-acre lot.

From the main entrance, a hallway opens up into the large living area. The original horizontal wood paneling and stone fireplace complement refinished hardwood floors and new fixtures.

In 1937, the Butts home was reportedly referred to as one of the first 'modern' houses in the Madison area. With interior walls clad in wood paneling and expansive windows overlooking lush greenery, the home is reminiscent of a tree house both inside and out. Scroll ahead to see more of the 2,500-square-foot home, which is currently listed for $900,000.

Another view of the living room, which features large windows overlooking the treetops and a large opening leading to the sunroom.

Between the living room and kitchen is space for a formal dining area. The large space can easily accommodate a table for eight.

The large galley kitchen was completely modernized as part of the renovation. The long space leads to a large corner window in front of the sink, which allows warm natural light inside.

Sleek white cabinetry and countertops contrast with a black subway tiles and stainless steel appliances. The space seamlessly flows into the open dining and living room area.

A look at the large sunroom, which can be separated from the living room by sliding glass doors. The sunny space is afforded a tree-house-like atmosphere from wrap-around windows that overlook the wooded property.

Deep overhands provide some shade, while clerestory windows pull natural light in from all sides of the room. A built-in bookcase can be found at one end of the room.

The home offers a total of four bedrooms, with three on the main level and one downstairs in the basement. Here is a look at the master suite, which adds to the tree-house like feeling with floor-to-ceiling windows.

One of three full bathrooms, the master bathroom features modern amenities, including all-new cabinetry, tile work, and fixtures, as well as a large walk-in shower.

A look at one of the other two bedrooms on the main floor. An expansive corner window frames views of the lush treetops.

Downstairs, a basement level contains space for a multi-use family or recreation room. The lower lower also offers an additional bedroom and full bathroom, with large picture windows providing natural lighting and views of the landscape.

From the rear, the home's tree-house-like feeling can be appreciated. Nestled among large, old-growth trees, the home looks down onto a mostly wild and natural property.

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