Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cedar Rock Boathouse Gets Some Much Needed Love

The perfect Mid-Century man-cave has been due for a renovation.

By Annette Barlow September 12, 2016
Photo courtesy of

Frank Lloyd Wright was a rock star. If architects could have groupies and sold-out stadium shows, he’d have been all over that. In his pre-hipster pork-pie hat, the man was a legend during his time—and his legacy endures. Nowadays, you can’t swing a cat without bumping into a FLW restoration project. But just when you thought all his buildings were known, up pops another.

This latest find, however, is a little different from many, as it’s one of FLW’s few small built spaces. The Cedar Rock Pavilion, overlooking the Wapsipinicon River in Quasqueton, Iowa, was designed in the 1940’s by Wright as part of an 11-acre estate for retired couple Lowell and Agnes Walter.

Related: Your Dreams Are Not For Sale, But Maybe They’re For Rent: Five Frank Lloyd Wright Houses You Can Rent

Completed in 1950, Cedar Rock House—as the main house was known—was true to Wright’s enduring vision, melding the man-made with the natural, and maximizing exposure to the buildings’ landscape. When Lowell passed away, Agnes entrusted the iconic home to the Department of Natural Resources, along with a trust to help with repair and maintenance of the property.

But when base-level repairs were undertaken, including the installation of a new roof, the fund ran dry, and a full restoration of the estate and its outbuildings ground to a halt. Which is where Friends of Cedar Rock, a local non-profit, stepped in, managing the fundraising effort which would grant a full makeover to the property‘s boathouse.

By 2010, the group had raised enough money to begin the project, and the completed building is due to be revealed sometime in late September or October. Costing a modest $220,000, the scope of work is mainly directed at protecting against flood damage, repointing the brick work and restoring the dated interiors.

The two-story building, located 100 yards from the main house on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river, has previously been labelled a “man-cave”, designed as it was for Lowell’s personal use. The lower level housed his custom motorboat and canoes, while the upper levels provided sanctuary, with a bed area, a desk and a large fireplace with built-in reading bench. In fact, this was less a boat house and more a crash pad, as the structure also features a screened-in second floor porch, perfect for sun-soaking.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

It’s a rare beast, because although FLW designed other boathouses in his time, Cedar Rock Pavilion is both the only boathouse he designed in tandem with the main house, and the only one still standing, despite recent flooding. It’s testament to how much the owners loved their home, that it’s still around, and in such good condition over 60 years later.
And while the house is open to the public from May through to October, you’ll likely have to wait until next year to see the restored boathouse in its all its glory.


In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with the Walter’s home: a unique, Usonian building, replete with trademark FLW brick lines, garden wall with three walls of windows, offering wide-angle views of the surrounding greenery and beautiful period furnishings, selected by FLW himself.

Annette Barlow



Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

    Avocado toasts are the reason why millennials can’t afford a home, says one Australian real estate developer. #AvocadoToast #Millennials
    Five years on since Superstorm Sandy, Queens’ coastal peninsula is in the midst of a development boom. #Development #Rockaways
    It turns out, renters can’t get enough of good ol’ no-doorman-no-frills apartments. Too bad developers aren’t building any. #Doorman #LuxuryRentals
The Housing Market In Shenzhen, The Silicon Valley of China, Slows In 2017
The city of Shenzhen has been on the real estate radar for quite some time. It is known as the Silicon Valley of China. Many…
Developers Jump Aboard The Trend To Revamp Transit Hubs And Remake Cities
Never has the often used marketing term, “close to transportation” been more important when attracting home buyers. These days it’s not just homes that are…
Millennials Are Fueling The Current Sizzling Real Estate Market
Ever wondered why the hosts of home improvement shows seem to be getting progressively younger, along with the fresh-faced couples getting their new properties made…
The Best Cities For Recent Grads To Rent – Without Blowing Their Entire Paycheck
What’s next post graduation? For most, the logical answer is to find a job. After the excitement of finishing your studies and the big celebration,…
Luxury Knows No Limit In Malaysia As A Deluge Of New Developments Hit The Market
The amount of newly constructed high-end real estate in Malaysia is almost as abundant as the lush vegetation which covers the tropical landscape. Despite vacant…
Don’t Call It A Commune – Upscale Co-Living Is Attracting Major Development
What may have once been referred to as a commune is today termed a co-living space. The big news that it’s not hippies with hemp…
It’s Official—New York Is Now The Most Expensive City In The World To Build
As if you didn’t already know, it’s expensive to build in New York City. Not just expensive but now officially the most expensive place in…
An Ultimate Destination For The Most Comprehensive Real Estate Data, Agorafy Prepares To Launch Nationwide
In the coming days, Agorafy will be entering a new chapter. It is the beginning of a new growth cycle in real estate technology with…

TOP 10