(c) 2016 Mark Hertzberg
Angela and Nicholas Hayes joined the Wright family at the end of 2016 when they became the new stewards of the Elizabeth Murphy American System-Built house (1917) at 2106 E. Newton Ave. in Shorewood (near Milwaukee). The house, which was altered in the 1970s with the addition of a basement-level garage, was documented as one of Wright’s American System-Built homes in June, 2015. The siding, which either covers stucco, or more likely replaced it, also masks its Wright heritage. Still, Nicholas notes, ” The entire home remains as drawn, down to the knobs on the dining cabinets.”
The story of the announcement of the re-discovery of the house as one of Wright’s is at https://wrightinracine.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/newly-discovered-wright-home-near-milwaukee/
The Hayes outlined their interest in Wright and commitment to staying in Shorewood in a letter to the previous stewards, Roger and Pat Wisialowski. The letter, which accompanied their offer to purchase, follows:
“Both lifelong Milwaukeeans, we came to Shorewood 21 years ago to raise our kids among lovely neighbors and homes like yours. We lovingly upgraded our own home and gardens, I built businesses nearby, and Angela became the Art Teacher at Atwater School, where she teaches Shorewood children about local art and architecture, among other things. One of her class projects was to recreate Shorewood facades in clay after hiking neighborhoods, talking about history and engineering, and making 2D pencil sketches. Hundreds of colorful miniatures of familiar homes rest on Shorewoodian fireplace mantels alongside student-signed architectural renderings as provenance.
“With our adult daughters now in college, we’re entering a new chapter: we plan to stay in Shorewood, where we hope to give back. We think your home is an important key.
“Like you, we plan to be attentive and careful stewards and archivists while we live at 2106 East Newton. We will protect its glory, celebrate its importance, and secure its future. We plan to study every detail of Wright’s plans and workmanship and make sure that they remain intact and fresh. We will invest in and care for the home and yard as an important artistic and civic statement.
“To that end, Angela is already supplementing her curriculum to teach students about Wright’s vision, genius and aesthetic through her own experience of living in it. I’ve read every word written about the home since your discovery and will continue to engage the experts to try to uncover new clues and details about its place in our neighborhood. The home will remain a well-cared-for showpiece, although it will not be trampled by tourists. It will stay a private, quiet neighborhood gem, while also, importantly, creating a direct, tangible teaching moment for local kids.”
The Hayes are excited about the discoveries they have made in just a few weeks: “We’ve made some amazing discoveries in one short month: the original porch floor paint was hidden under carpet and parquet. Maple floors run throughout the upstairs (most were covered by linoleum and carpet). The all-birch cabinetry and trim can be painstakingly returned to original with classic materials: vinegar, steel wool, shellac and of course, time.” They are posting their progress on Twitter, including the following pictures, used with their permission.