In Travel & Visitors Guide

Rentable Seth Peterson Cottage offers the Wright stuff

Great Wisconsin architect Frank Lloyd Wright had literally hundreds of projects on his drawing table -- or in the process of being built when he died. One of those was a small cottage on a bluff above Mirror Lake, just south of Wisconsin Dells.

The 900-sq. ft. cottage was commissioned in 1958 by Wright's neighbor, Seth Peterson, a government employee who was younger and considerably less wealthy than most of the 90-year-old Wright's clients.

So, although some corners were cut to keep the project vaguely close to its original budget -- although like most of Wright's projects, the cottage came in over budget -- the Seth Peterson Cottage, which now sits in a state park and is available for overnight stays, is one of Wright's most charming and intimate late works.

With its slanted and soaring roof -- which is unsupported by intrusive columns -- the small vacation home has a wide-open yet intimate feel. There's also a monumental fireplace and, in winter when the trees lose their leaves, an awesome view of Mirror Lake.

Constructed of wood, glass and locally-quarried sandstone and with floors and terraces of flagstone, the cottage, which was completed in 1960, fell into disrepair by the mid-1960s and was purchased by the state, which was snapped up adjacent properties to expand Mirror Lake State Park. Although the state's policy was to demolish structures and turn the land back to nature, the Seth Peterson Cottage was spared. It was, however, boarded up for years and began to return to nature, housing animals, birds and insects.

In 1989 a group of residents and Wright fans got together to save the cottage. They formed the Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy and struck a deal with the state to restore the cottage and run it as a non-profit business to raise funds to keep the cottage in good condition and to make it useful to a new generation of Wright fans.

The conservancy spent $300,000 restoring the cottage over three years and it is available for rental, for upwards of $250 a night. However, the cottage can sleep about 8 people comfortably, especially if a couple of them are kids.

One conservancy member estimates that the cottage has a 98 percent occupancy rate, so if you're interested, you'll have to book pretty far in advance ... or go in January, when there is the most availability, thanks to the weather. It is also available for meetings of up to about a dozen people and special events up to about 40 people.

You can also help preserve the cottage's future by joining the conservancy, which gets you discounts, a newsletter and more. If you'd like to visit the Seth Peterson Cottage, you can do so for $2 on the second Sunday of every month from 1-4 p.m. The next open house is set for Sun., Sept. 14.

For more information, you can visit www.sethpeterson.org or call (608) 254-6051.

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