The land for the 4282 Twin Valley Rd. residence was
deeded to the Middleton School District in 1861, and a one room schoolhouse
(which now encloses the living room, kitchen, and part of one bathroom of the
current house) was built of 20” quarried sandstone from the quarryjust to the north east of the
school. The sandstone cliffs behind the property were pushed up as fingers of
the last glaciation ended their southern journey.At the time this was one of the first
buildings in the Middleton area, along with the Stamm
House on Century Avenue and the Lutheran Church on Pleasant View and Old Sauk
The Mud Lake School was named for the wetlands that
filled these valleys before the Conservation Corps trenched Black Earth Creek
just to the south in the 1930’s.The school was in continuous operation serving kindergarten through
eighth grade students until 1948. The largest of the Silver Maples currently
bordering the road was already a mature tree in this 1880 photograph.
Mud Lake Schoolhouse 1890
The Schoolhouse and Silver Maple in 2014
In 1952 Kenneth Caldwell, a social work consultant for
county mental hospitals under the State Department of Public Welfare, purchased
the building and lot from the school district.With the help of his friend Herb Fritz,
an architect and Frank Lloyd Wright lieutenant, he converted the building into
a small bachelor’s residence, with a loft where his weaving loom was located.
During Caldwell’s 20 years in the house, he frequently opened the house to
parties of the Madison gay community of the 1950’s.
In 1971 Caldwell moved to Mineral Point and sold the
house to Dan Altschul, a young builder, who, to
insure continuity and integrity of design, employed Herb Fritz to develop the
architectural plans for the lower section of the east bathroom, with sauna and jacuzzi, two bedrooms to the north, and a large carport,
all built in 1976.Altschul’s family lived in the house until his financial
difficulties led Randall Bank to foreclose on the property in 1979.
Clare Fulenwider purchased
the house in 1979, got in touch with Herb Fritz, and with his help divided the
large north bedroom into two, extended the northern wall of the house further
north and enclosed the garage.Harriet
Forman moved in the house in 1982, and a southern addition was designed and
built. Herb Fritz developed the basic design, the passive
solar components were handled by Ann McDonald, and master carpenter
Roger Granger of Mt. Horeb was the general contractor.
Fritz used the basic elements of the Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright principles he
studied and taught for many years with his mentor and neighbor Wright.The floors were Wright’s standard rose dyed concrete, sometimes referred to as terra cotta.
Beams are exposed.The stone walls of the school house and the floors provide
abundant thermal mass for the heat gathered through the south bank of windows
and skylights.Herb Fritz’ plans
for both the 1976 and the 1982 additions are available (total finished area is
~2,400 sq.ft., including the
living room loft).
While Harriet and Claire lived in the house they
hosted numerous parties of the RDA (Rural Dykes Association), had parties with
the U.W. Women’s Studies faculty and staff, held potlucks of the Lizards, a
lesbian social group for over 50’s and their friends, Jewish Lesbian meetings, and Chanukah
parties. This text is an expansion and updating of a brief history of the house
that Claire wrote during their tenure in the 1980’s.
Deric Bownds and Len Walker purchased the house from
Harriet and Claire in September 1990.Improvements have included
remodeling the loft and kitchen (which now has a restaurant quality Viking gas
stove), and landscaping to provide a back patio and small pond as well as a
larger pond with waterfall in the front yard.A sturdy chicken coop with cedar shake
roof and siding was built in the side yard in 2011, with an attached fenced
area.In 2005 the stonework of the
schoolhouse was restored using the original mortar formulation, and a modern
heating/air conditioning system installed.The shake roof of the schoolhouse and all of the skylights were replaced
after damage from a 2011 hailstorm.The flat roof areas covering the Herb Fritz additions were rebuilt in
2013.A conversion from liquid
propane to natural gas was made possible by MG&E in 2014.
This video is a slide show of pictures taken throughout our 25 years at Twin Valley. There are scenes from the many musical/social afternoons we hosted there. It was a good run, but finally we have had to move on, because our center of gravity has shifted to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The slide show has over 400 pictures and takes about 30 min. (If the video doesn't start with a picture of the schoolhouse, drag the cursor back to the beginning of the time line.) If you want to skip this, or fatigue before the 30 minutes is up, the pictures following give a summary impression.
The interior of the old school house, now the living
room, has housed annual social/musical afternoons.
Appetizers have been served in the dining room of the
passive solar 1982 addition.