Homes We Covet
a collection of local homes that are just really cool
Chuck & Ginny Jordan’s home
1415 S Farwell St, Eau Claire |
When Chuck and Ginny Jordan bought their Third Ward home in 1974, they said you could fly a kite in there on a windy day. But they were attracted to the home’s charming potential, and the fact that their friends lived next door. Since then, they’ve replaced all the windows and doors, got rid of the asbestos shingles, exchanged the radiators for a modern heating system, and rebuilt the foundation. Their home, which Chuck describes as “80s-90s-style on the inside with an 1800s exterior,” used to be a doctor’s office, conveniently located on the Farwell Street car line. The doctor, coincidentally, was named Dr. Jurden. Fancy that. Not long ago, Ginny found a truck of his at a neighborhood thrift sale. “Which just goes to show you that nothing ever leaves the Third Ward! It just gets passed from house to house,” says Ginny. The stately restored home was voted “best place to hang out” by Memorial’s class of 2001, of which their daughter Kelly was a part. The Jordans’ five-bedroom home has also been host to numerous parties, including their son’s wedding reception.
Don & Diana Redetzke’s home
4620 Abbey Road, Eau Claire
Gracing a hillside on Eau Claire’s south side is Don and Diana Redetzke’s abode, which appears to be inspired by Spain. The first thing I noticed? The swan. It stays out on the kidney-shaped pond in warmer weather, though it prefers the pen behind the garage when it gets cold. (Coyote sightings also dictate this.) The pond, designed by Don’s brother, seasonally harbors hundreds of koi fish, which can swim through a channel into a smaller pool in the greenhouse. The landscaping, dreamed up by Don, is extensive, with shaped trees and shrubs and plenty of crazy green dimension and texture. And while the pond and the greenhouse are all top-notch, the interior is just as intriguing. Turns out they have a room devoted to 70s disco, complete with lighted dance floor and full karaoke set up. This leads to two conclusions: 1) disco at home is the ultimate convenience, and 2) never judge a home by its cover.
Robert & Jan Willow’s home
603 Grandview Heights Ct, Menomonie
In architecture, the name Frank Lloyd Wright rightfully warrants some attention. But what about the man who fleshed out many of Wright’s general ideas? That man was John Howe, Wright’s chief draughtsman and a prolific architect himself who adhered to many of Wright’s famous design principles. He also happened to fashion a home for a Menomonie family who knew him. The Willows gave Howe relative free reign when it came to drafting their Menomonie house back in 1978, merely providing him with a list of living habits and values. From a distance, a few Wright/Howe trademarks are readily visible. First, the house is “built into the site” with the front door not oriented to the street. “You kind of have to look for it,” says Robert. “When you walk into the house, there’s a low, sheltering feeling, and then the next room is high and expansive, and it’s just magnificent.” The interior is also replete with those signature harmonizing vertical and horizontal lines. “The house is peaceful and restful. … It feels good to come home,” says Jan. Later, the Willows hired Matthew Skjonsberg, an architect at Collab who studied at Taliesen. He provided the couple with a “music room” addition that preserved the integrity of the initial design.
Mark & Beverly Litka’s home
618 Margaret St, Eau Claire
This house on Eau Claire’s East Hill was fitted together on site like a jigsaw puzzle. Mark Litka, who owns the house along with his wife Beverly, says builders back in 1937 probably cut the sandstone into unusual shapes mechanically (with wires), then put them back together, piece by piece. A common practice at the time, the stone masons left their signature – a carving of a man’s face – about 10 feet up on the south side of the house. The origin of the sandstone is unknown, but Mark did his best to match the quality when he built a retaining wall a few years back. Another addition Litka made to the original design after buying the house 13 years ago was the installation of two gargoyles. Litka’s sister, an artist in Michigan, recommended another artist to design and construct the gargoyles. “There was a flat spot up there,” says Litka. “It needed something.” It definitely has something now – two original gargoyles to keep vigil on Margaret Street.