When the newlywed Frautschis planned their first home in Madison, they rejected a staid design by Frank M. Riley and reminisced about the country houses they had seen in France, where they had met and married. They chose Cerny, an architect in Chicago, who had apprenticed with revivalist architect David Adler and had studied art in France. His designs captured the rambling, additive quality of medieval French architecture, while his interiors combined tradition and modernism.
The L-shaped white sandstone house recalls a French Norman farmhouse, with front-and-side-facing gables and massive end chimneys. A segmental archway, reminiscent of breezeways between house and barn in rural France, links the ell to the central porch, which spans the house’s side-gabled core. At the junction of the ell nestles a round stair tower projecting above the roof. The tower, along with the rough-textured walls, the heavy but simple archway, and the hipped dormer windows of irregular sizes and orientations all lend a rustic charm. Inside, a sculptural stairway with an iron balustrade spirals up to the tower’s timbered conical roof. At the west end of the house, the living room features a parquet ceiling and French windows opening onto the lake.
The Frautschis sold the house in the late 1940s and later commissioned Cerny to design another traditional house next door at 29 Fuller Drive. By the 1940s, Cerny had become so successful that his designs often appeared in Town and Country and House and Garden.