Frank Lloyd Wright's Cooke House!

Frank Lloyd Wright's Cooke House!

Andrew and Maude Cooke of Hampton Roads, Virginia, started writing to Frank Lloyd Wright in 1951 asking if he would design the house they had always dreamed about. It was a long process with stops and starts and redesigns, but the Cookes finally received the completed home plans in 1957. The couple didn’t start building until 1959, just two weeks before Mr. Wright’s death. The home was completed in 1960 on Crystal Lake in Virginia Beach, where Wright designed the home to take full-view advantage of the woodland and dunes along the water.

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Wright’s Usonian design incorporated his passive solar hemicycle aesthetic of a sweeping half circular design leading the eye to the dunes and lake. The street-side elevation was enclosed to separate the family from prying eyes and street noise. The drive leading to the house is further sound deadened and made private by stands of loblolly pines and underplantings of large azaleas, camellias, dogwoods, magnolias and cherry trees. Diverted by the conservative entrance, first-time guests would never expect to walk in and see the lake through the dramatic long curve of solid glass.

After twenty-three years in the home and the passing of her husband in 1983, Maude decided it was time to sell; Daniel and Jane Duhl were the buyers. Daniel, a textile engineer and a legend in the textile industry, first gained fame in the 1960s by developing a casement drapery fabric that didn’t droop and went on to develop a non-drooping fabric slat for shades. As an engineer, he had deep appreciation of Wright’s work and he and his wife set about a total restoration of the property, for which an award for preservation from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) of Hampton Roads was bestowed. During the restoration, the Duhls added air conditioning to preserve the house from humidity, and a 14-foot swim-spa was installed in a stepped-down terrace. To hide the pool’s mechanical equipment, they built a large underground bunker into a dune which housed the equipment as well as a sauna and gym. They also added two docks on the lake, one a floating dock for small boats and a large dock that can accommodate two large yachts. In addition to these amenities, the house also has a double carport and a servant’s suite.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s passive solar hemicycle beach house in Virginia Beach was originally for sale at $3.75 million in 2014, reduced to $2.75 million and sold to a local businessman who had wanted it for over 30 years. The final sale price was $2.2 million in 2016.

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