Herbert Jacobs Second Wright Home In Wisconsin

Original Owner: Herbert Jacobs

Address: 3995 Shawn Trail, Middleton

Year Built: 1948

In 1942 the Jacobs family moved from their previous Wright home to a 52 acre farm in what is now the suburb of Middleton. The area around their first Wright home had begun to become very developed and they wanted to move further out into the country. But from the beginning they also viewed this farm as a promising site for another Wright house.

In early 1944 Wright produced a design for the Jacobs based on the semicircle. This was the first of many buildings Wright designed based on the circle. It was also a pioneer of passive solar design.

The design for the new Jacobs house was a half circle with the north (back) wall protected from the cold winter northwest wind by a berm rising nearly to the top of the wall. But on the south, the entire face was open to the winter sun, with large windows and glass doors facing a sunken garden. This augmented the heat provided by the gravity heat inside the floor. The wide overhanging roof shields these windows from the sun in the summer. The design inside is basically one large limestone and glass room, 80 feet long and 17 feet wide, with only the kitchen downstairs and the bathroom upstairs segregated in the masonry core. The bedrooms are on an upper level; in order to keep the entire lower level open, the second floor is hung from the roof with metal rods.

There is also a pool at the southern glazed wall of the house; half of it is inside and half outside. The Jacobs family used this to cool off on hot summer days.

Because of material shortages caused by the Second World War, construction of the house was not begun until 1946. The Jacobs family built the bulk of the house themselves, with some help from local workmen. The home was not completed until 1949.

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