Next up in our Wisconsin daytrip series we’ll be exploring the Manitowoc/Two Rivers area! This area, is incredibly popular to tourists in the spring and summer due to: 1) its gorgeous location along Lake Michigan 2) the SS Badger Car Ferry (travels between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI) and 3) as a stop on the way up to Door County, to name just a few reasons. But, there are still adventures to be had in the area year round that you are not going to want to miss!
Manitowoc/Two Rivers have a combined population of roughly 44,000, and are located approximately: 50 min from Green Bay, WI 1.5 hours from Milwaukee, WI 2.5 hours from Madison, WI 3 hours from Chicago, IL
Having explored much of Manitowoc/Two Rivers area throughout the years, I’ve had my eye on a visit to the Bernard Schwartz House for years! FINALLY I had the opportunity to tour it, and you will definitely want to check it out for yourself.
The Bernard Schwartz House
aka Still Bend, which is located on Adams Street in Two Rivers is famous for the fact that it was a Frank Lloyd Wright design. Wright’s design for this house was originally published in Life Magazine, in an article called “Eight Houses for Modern Living”. As described in the article, architects were chosen to create a “Dream House” for an average American family. Four families were chosen, and each family was assigned two architects: one with a traditional style, and one with a modern style.
Wright designed a modern style house for a family in Minnesota; however, the plans never came to fruition in Minnesota. Fortunately, Bernard and Fern Schwartz were looking to build a home and ultimately ended up having a modified version of the Dream House Wright designed for Life Magazine built right here in Two Rivers. Wright himself made the adjustments to the building materials, and created several designs for furniture, and specific additions to the house. Since the property lies along the beautiful East Twin River, Wright even designed a boathouse, however this design was never constructed.
Tours & Rentals
Tours of the house are available to the public a few times a year. There is actually 1 more date coming up soon, so be sure to make a reservation for your spot on the tour! (January 7th 2018) But, if you’re looking for a more in depth opportunity and want to experience what it would be like living in a Frank Lloyd Wright home, you can also RENT the 4 bedroom and 2.5 bathroom house and stay there overnight (or longer!)
Today, Still Bend is owned by brothers Michael and Gary Ditmer. Michael greeted us at the front door of the house for our tour, and made sure everyone felt welcome and comfortable. We sat down on the couches in the back corner of the house, next to an amazing roaring fire, and Michael told us the history of the house and showed us the article in Life Magazine. We also learned a little about the Schwartz family, and the 2nd owners of the home before proceeding around the house (Gary & Michael are the 3rd owners of the home).
A few original furniture pieces are still present in the home, which Michael pointed out as we passed by them. The rest of the décor follows with the historic charm one would expect of a Wright house. Right away when entering the house, the ceilings are low in the entry way, and the intricate details of the house are apparent in the distance. There is a nice sleek wall in the entry way which has a door, one might think is a closet… but in fact it is a 1/2 bath.
Moving out of the entry way, the ceilings get taller, and you can see the main bedroom which has a full bathroom attached on the left. Straight ahead though is a stunning overview of a large area of the house with built in shelves and beautiful fire places. Michael stated it is believed Wright designed the entry way with low ceilings to get guests out of the entry way so they would mingle with other guests.
Next, we walked upstairs and saw an original bedframe in the first bedroom. This bedroom also had a nice balcony with gorgeous views. One of the other bedrooms had a dresser that was original to the house, but was not likely a Wright design.
The bathroom upstairs is a pretty funny story too, and definitely not something I would have expected to see in a Wright design…. Why, you ask? If you’re going to tour the house, just wait and hear the story for yourself, it’s much more entertaining in person! (so skip the next paragraph), if you really want to know… here’s a recap:
Spoiler alert – skip next paragraph if you’ll be touring the house
**Mrs. Schwartz apparently wanted a linen closet in the upstairs bathroom, which was not part of the original design. After going back and forth with Wright about changing the design to include a closet in the bathroom, ultimately the new design moved the bathroom door a little ways down the hall to accommodate the closet…. whether it was an overlooked miscalculation or the more glamorous story that Wright did this on purpose to get back at her request to stray from his original design… this ultimately resulted in a tight squeeze when trying to open said door to get into the bathroom. The door hits the toilet!
After exploring upstairs, we went back to the main floor and saw the dining area and kitchen. Quite a remarkable house! Michael then let us walk around to any areas of the house we wanted another peek at, and he also answered any questions we had. We then were able to head into the backyard for some nice views of the house and river.
We had a great time touring the house, and I highly recommend a visit to anyone who has interest in architecture, or loves Frank Lloyd Wright!
Be sure to pin it for later!
If you sign up for the newsletter on their website, sometimes there are special events held at the house too!