This was the house and studio of author and publisher August W. Derleth, best known for his stories of life in Sac Prairie (known collectively as the Sac Prairie Saga). Derleth cultivated a devoted local audience with his keen eye for detail and character and his emphasis on life in Wisconsin. He named Place of Hawks after a mythical hill beside the Wisconsin River that he had invented for his Gothic novel of the same name. The ten-acre site is level prairie land, wooded with oaks and with plantings established in the 1850s by German botanist and landscape gardener F. G. J. Lueders.
The house was designed by Weissen-born and built by William Derleth and Paul Scharra. It combines modernist elements—a pronounced horizontality and a functionalist approach to the arrangement of the win-ows—with an assortment of period revival details, such as the arched braces supporting the rear roof. The house is T-shaped in plan, with a wing extending to the rear, and a massive chimney set where the wing meets the main block. Derleth was an inveterate romantic, and nearly every detail of his house asserted a connection with a romanticized past. Many houses built by Wisconsin’s early settlers were constructed of local dolomite, a golden limestone, and Derleth thereby linked his house to the region’s earlier history. However, unlike those early houses, Derleth’s dwelling features rough-cut stones laid in irregular courses with occasional projections, evoking the sense of a natural outcropping. Derleth originally thatched the main cross-gabled roof, but this material soon proved impractical, so he replaced it with asphalt shingles. Shed dormers light the attic story, where his press was housed.
As with the exterior, the interior contrasts romantic details—such as the plank doors, which feature iron strapwork and bottle-glass windows, and the massive stone fireplace in the living room—with modernist pine-paneled walls and a semicircular wood-veneered desk, located in Derleth’s upstairs bedroom/studio.