Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
S10431A LUEDERS RD | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:August W. Derleth House (Place of Hawks)
Other Name:Derleth, August W. House
Reference Number:29083
Location (Address):S10431A LUEDERS RD
City:Sauk City
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1939
Survey Date:1990
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:Gabled Ell
Structural System:
Wall Material:Stone - Unspecified
Architect:Leo Weissenborn
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Derleth, August W., House
National Register Listing Date:4/30/1991 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:3/7/1991 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the State Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation.

This was the home and studio of regional author August W. Derleth, best known for his poetry, his nature writing, and his stories of ordinary life in Sac Prairie (known collectively as the Sac Prairie Saga). He also wrote historical fiction for children and numerous mysteries and macabre stories--in all, more than 150 books. Although now no longer highly regarded, Derleth cultivated a devoted local audience with his keen eye for detail and character and his emphasis on life in Wisconsin.

Derleth 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 combines modernist elements--a pronounced horizontality and a functionalist approach to the arrangement of the windows--with an assortment of period revival details, such as the arched braces supporting the rear roof. The one-and-one-half-story house is T-shaped in plan, with a wing extending to the rear, and a massive exterior chimney set where the wing meets the main block. Derleth was an inveterate romantic, and nearly every detail of his vernacular dwelling asserted a connection with a romanticized past. Many of the homes built by Wisconsin’s pioneer settlers had been 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 protrusions, evoking the sense of a natural outcropping in the Wrightian manner. 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 with 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.
Bibliographic References:Date of construction: NR nomination Historic Sauk City Walking Tour brochure, 2012. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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