History of the “Cooke” House

Maude and Andrew Cooke had a dream; to live in a house designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.  In her first letter to Mr. Wright in 1951 Maude wrote, “Dear Mr. Wright, Will you please help us get the beautiful house we have dreamed of for so long?”  The dream persisted during many years of correspondence.  A rendering is dated 1953, and the plans for the 3000 sq ft home were delivered in 1957.  Construction was begun in 1959, two weeks before FLW’s death.  The house was completed in 1960.  The pool surrounding the patio seen in the rendering had been deleted, thought to be a hazard to their young children and their desire for a more natural view of the lake.

The Cooke family, Maude, Andrew and their three children moved into their home on Crystal Lake in October of 1960.  At that time, the original budget of $40,000 had grown to over four times that amount.  The family lived in their dream house for 23 years.

In 1983, Daniel and Jane Duhl purchased Mr. Wright’s hemicycle sculpture from Maude.  The house was in desperate need of restoration, which the Duhls undertook immediately.  The stunning restoration received an award for preservation from the AIA of Hampton Roads.  This was a Green Construction house with a passive solar design, which worked reasonably well.  Air conditioning was not a typical item in most houses in 1959 and surely not in Mr. Wright’s houses.   However, the Duhls added two central air conditioning systems, mostly to protect the house from the heat and humidity when closed.  
A 14 foot swim spa was installed in a stepped down terrace overlooking Crystal Lake.  In order to accommodate the mechanisms needed to operate the swim spa, a large underground bunker was built into the dune above the lake.  This included a sauna and an exercise room.   Also at lakeside are two docks; one floating for launching small boats and a larger dock which can accommodate two large yachts.

 A stand of bamboo welcomes you to the very unobtrusive driveway leading to a double carport, and a servant’s suite, as well as the front door.  The house is perfectly sited to take advantage of the natural dune and native loblollies, providing a private setting of camellias, giant azaleas, dogwoods, magnolias and cherry trees.