Ghosts of the Goetsch-Winckler

IMG_0208BOO!  No, it’s not haunted. Or at least I don’t think it is, and I’m one of those people who is sensitive to the energy of certain places.  But there are ghosts.

When we traveled to Michigan to take our first look at this potential second home, I was ready for an overwhelming amount of creepy historic house energy to come oozing out of the redwood plank panelling and nix the whole idea. Who cared if Frank Lloyd Wright designed it? I was ready to encounter a dank and stale environment.  I was wrong.

As much as I wanted to hate this old house on my first visit, I could not.  As I walked from room to room, the autumn sunlight streamed through the windows, warming each cozy  space.  I stood still and silent and just felt the restorative quality of of this simple and yet infinitely grand shelter.  And like so many others before me, I was home.

Over the years I’ve encountered the “ghosts” of former inhabitants of the Goetsch-Winckler throughout the house.  Let’s start with the front door.  Where is it?  Is it the set of doors with the deadbolt?  The set under the overhead light?  When Frank Lloyd Wright came to visit, did he enter and walk smack into the hall closet?  Or did Alma Goetsch and Katherine Winckler never lock their doors at all, and just enter through any set that was convenient?

Speaking of locks, what’s up with the strange square of wood in the large bedroom door? Deadbolt?  Repair of a kicked in door?  Oh, the drama!  And I’d love to attribute this door’s tendency to slam when the windows are open to an other-worldly presence, but I’m pretty sure it’s really just the wind.

In the small bedroom there’s a hole cut in the back of the built in bookshelf allowing access to a wall cabinet in the gallery.  Phone wires? Electrical cords? Or someone with something secret to stash?  Will we ever know?

And although many architects and contractors would encourage me to refinish the cabinets and closet doors, I choose to leave them as they are.  The scratches near the door pulls remind me of the many others who have called this little house home.

In the bathroom, “ghost marks” on the wall hint where a mirror or medicine cabinet might have been but leave little information as to the original design.  How many people, even FLW himself, have stood at that sink and stared into the same mirror as I do, wondering if they really look as ghoulish as the reflection peering back at them in that ghastly overhead lighting?  Forget haunted, I scare myself daily!

Back to Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s been said that his “presence” haunts all Wright homeowners in their restoration decisions.  Although I’ve never felt a chill around midnight as the breeze from a flourish of his cape flows through the studio, I have encountered him daily in the beauty of every structural detail.  Even the simple task of opening a window causes me to reflect on his genius in all aspects of design.  It is these reflections, more insightful than frightful, that will become the future topics for my blog.

Questions or Comments?  I’d love to hear from you.


9 thoughts on “Ghosts of the Goetsch-Winckler

  1. Audrey, Just so you know, Wright Chat has a thread going about this. Top of the stack right now under: “Pomegranate Usonian Houses Carla Lind”

  2. That’s actually a reflection of the outside brick wall. The only skylights in the house are the two in the kitchen.

  3. No, there’s not a brick wall in the interior there right?
    So maybe there is an open door and ….
    I’m intrigued about what’s going on there in the photograph.
    Would love to get your explanation.

  4. Hey Audrey, it’s me again, Tom
    Question about the gorgeous photograph of your house that is the head banner to this blog. The second to last tall window from the right shows natural light streaming in from above and striking brick on the interior. That must mean there is a skylight in the roof at this point. Is that correct?

  5. I am a life long devotee of Frank Lloyd Wright and am overjoyed to find some one who also loves the man, his life and his work. I am particularly interested in the Goetsch-Winckler house for its own sake and because it was designed for, and perfectly suites, location in a wooded area.

  6. So delighted to find your blog about this home! My husband and I share a love for the craftsmanship and esthetic of the 50s and 60s. We plan family vacations and weekends around “treasure hunting” at estate sales and thrift stores, and pilgrimages to FLW and other mid century sites. Last week, I found a wonderful signed, framed lithograph by Alma M. Goetsch in a local thrift store titled “Merry Christmas”. I’d love to send you a photo of it!
    Thank you for sharing
    the details of your home updates! We will be following your posts!

  7. Hello!

    I’m the owner of the Jack Lamberson house in Oskaloosa, Ia. I post on Wright Chat as peterm. You can see photos of our restoration thread titled Lamberson House Restoration. We, too bought our house when living in So. Cal. We have since relocated to Chicago.

    Anyway, the Goetsch-Winckler house has always been in my top five list of Usonian houses. Wright at his most modern, running on all cylinders! We are making a road trip through Michigan leaving August 1st. I would estimate we would be in the Lansing area on Sunday the 2nd. Is there any chance you might be there? If not, is there any way that my wife and I might get a glimpse of the masterpiece?

    I sympathize with your chotschke dilemma! We, too keep our finer objects in Chicago, and find ourselves picking between $2.00 or $5.00 thrift store finds to fill those seemingly endless shelves!

    Hoping this might work!


    Peter 626 487 6637

  8. Thank you for sharing bits of your life in your beautiful home. If you ever decide to sell it, please contact me. My husband and I are huge FLW enthusiasts and I love MSU with all my heart (went there both for undergrad and grad school.)

  9. Found your website by accident- I live in Eagle, Michigan where my husband and I bought a Usonian style house 3 years ago. I recently toured Okemos in search of the FLW houses. Saw the signs of restoration when I drove by your house and out of curiosity, stopped and chatted with one of the contractors. Planning to contact him to do some work on our windows! It is a lovely home with an amazing history. Best wishes with the restoration and enjoy your lovely home. Thanks also for sharing on this website!! It may just inspire me to do the same about our place! I do have a very few Instagram posts at #midmichmod.

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