In 1900, Nellie Lauerman, wife of one of Marinette’s leading merchants, found the house of her dreams in the Ladies’ Home Journal when she saw a photograph of the Gail Borden House in Alhambra, California. The Lauermans hired the Borden House’s Los Angeles architect, Valk, who specialized in patio dwellings in which major rooms surround a courtyard. This house draws on Mediterranean forms and details. Tan stuccoed walls, pierced by windows with drip moldings, are embellished with plaster-cast garlands and other foliations. A classical cornice wraps the building and forms the base for an exuberant curvilinear parapet wall. At the house’s entrances stand paired Ionic columns, which support porticoes with curved parapets. Inside, Valk created an exotic paradise. The rooms open onto an ornate arcade surrounding a spectacular glass-ceilinged central courtyard. Fluted Corinthian columns support the arcade, above which a cornice supports triplets of clerestory windows with green panes. Lions’ heads on the cornice and festoons, wreaths, classical moldings, and ornate pilasters add to the courtyard’s lavish appearance. Valk’s rectangular fountain in the courtyard’s concrete floor yielded later to a round fountain in a red tile floor. Valk landscaped the courtyard with palm, banana, fig, and breadfruit trees to add to the Mediterranean atmosphere. The house appears much as it did in 1901, except for the addition of a bedroom on the northwest corner and the removal of parapet ornamentation that proved unable to weather Wisconsin’s winters. Northwest of the house is a two-story, three-car garage. The clapboard structure originally featured a battery charger for an electric car.
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Nellie and Frank Lauerman House, “Casa del Flores”
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