Va. Beach’s Frank Lloyd Wright house is for sale
The Cooke House is on Crystal Lake
A Virginia Beach house designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright is back on the market for just under $3 million.
The 3,020-square-foot home at the city’s North End, on Crystal Lake, was designed in 1953 for Andrew and Maude Cooke and completed in 1959. Maude Cooke wrote a letter to Wright seeking a design for the family’s home, as many enthusiasts did at the time.
It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and has a hemicycle design with floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Cooke house was built in the later part of Wright’s career, during his Usonian period, a term he used to refer to the United States, rather than American. The Usonian-era structures Wright built were developed to create well-designed houses for people of moderate income.
Wright’s later houses all had some sort of planning module, square, rectangle, diamond or hexagon, and then there were houses with radial patterns, like the Cooke house.
“The Cooke house is really interesting because it has two types of patterns — radial pattern [in] the curved main part — but it also has what we call an inline section based on a rectangular grid,” said John Waters, preservations program manager for the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. “That’s one of the things that makes it interesting and unique.”
There are fewer than 400 existing Wright structures left.
While it’s not uncommon for one of Wright’s houses to go on the market — this one has had a few owners in its time — in the past year, like the rest of the real estate market, the homes are moving quickly. The Cooke house is priced at $2,975,000 and has been on the market for about two weeks. The listing agent is Robin West with Rose & Womble Realty.
Some owners collect them or use them as second homes, but the conservancy encourages that the houses be lived in, Waters said.
“What’s unique about the Cooke house is that it is one of his hemicycle houses,” said Lisa Schrenk, a professor of Architectural History at the University of Arizona, who studies Wright. “You’ve got that wonderful curving glass wall, focusing the view onto the property, and you’ve got the lake right there.”
Wright, who died in 1959 at the age of 91, built three houses in Virginia, but the Cooke house is the only one in Hampton Roads. The other two are in Northern Virginia, including the Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria, which has been relocated twice and is open for public tours.
Schrenk said Wright was interested in total works of art and not only designed the building but also the furniture in a way that the homeowner could not rearrange it. Some of Wright’s signature designs include tented ceilings and solid floors.
“In a Wright house, regardless of its period, there is a continuity of design concept for the house,” Waters said. “Things carry through from the big picture down to the details.”
The Cooke house was renovated by the Duhl family, one of the previous owners, and it garnered a preservation award from the Hampton Roads chapter of the American Institute of Architecture.
The Duhl family, which owned the home beginning in 1983, restored it to Wright’s original design and then sold the home to a local businessman in 2016. He commissioned architect Lawrence “Duff” Kliewer Jr. with Cox, Kliewer & Co. PC for renovation consultation, according to Rose & Womble Realty, which is now listing the house. The kitchen and bathrooms were redesigned by KDW Home, and it now has new appliances, fixtures and a new heating system, and the woodwork has been restored to its original color. It still has the home’s original 40-foot long built-in sofa in the living room that faces the wall of windows with a view of Crystal Lake.
Waters said the conservancy works with owners of Wright homes to be good stewards and help them sensitively restore the structures.
“It really is important to find someone who is sensitive to the importance of the house,” he said.
Wright’s houses are considered works of art.
“I think it is like any great work of art in that sense, you’re always seeing new things,” Waters said. “The really compelling thing is more about what it gives back over time, in terms of its attention to detail.”