By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 26, 2023 at 10:40 PM

For just the second time in its 107-year lifespan, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Frederick Bogk House, 2420 N. Terrace Ave., on Milwaukee’s East Side is for sale.

The single-family house is listed with Christie’s International Real Estate for $1.5 million.

Click here to see photos of the Bogk House interior.

The home was built in 1916 for politician and businessman Frederick Bogk.

In recent months, passersby could see work being done on the house and grounds, which now seems as if it may have been in preparation for the listing.

As I noted in this article about other homes in the area that the Bogk House inspired, “In his ‘Heritage Guidebook,’ H. Russell Zimmermann called it ‘the most important example of Wright’s work" in Milwaukee’.”

The weighty structure stands out amid the more traditional architecture on its street, and you can’t miss its striking Prairie Style facade, with broad eaves and horizontal lines.

The Bogk House was designed at a time when Wright was influenced by Mayan and Aztecan motifs, and as Joan Marter noted in "The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art," "Explicit, albeit loosely interpreted, Mayan references appear in his work from 1915 with the A. D. German Warehouse (1915) in Richland Center, the Bogk House (1916) in Milwaukee, and the Barnsdall House (1916-22) in Los Angeles, whose plan recalls ancient Mayan triangles."

This aspect of the design is easily spotted in the frieze on the front of the Bogk House, which was built largely while Wright was in Tokyo to supervise work on his Imperial Hotel.

The house – described by Wright in a 1955 letter to the current owners as "a good house of a good period for a good client" – was designed for Frederick C. Bogk, a Milwaukee alderman and businessman.

Bogk was born in Sheboygan Falls in 1864 to Henry Bogk, a butcher, and Elizabeth Bienenstein, and came to Milwaukee with his parents when he was 7 years old. Once here, he attended Milwaukee Public Schools and later began working for the Wisconsin Central Railroad, where he rose through the ranks to land commissioner.

Retiring from the company in 1908, he became secretary/treasurer of the Ricketson Mineral Color Works and at the time of his death in 1936 he was president of the company that made mortar, cement and plaster pigments.

Before moving to his new Wright-designed house upon its completion in 1917, Bogk lived on 34th Street, in the Fifteenth Ward.

A member of the Wisconsin Club and the Milwaukee Athletic Club, Bogk served multiple terms as alderman. He served two terms, 1904-08, as Fifteenth Ward alderman and was elected as alderman at large from 1908 until 1920. He chaired the council’s licenses committee for eight years.

He and his wife Katherine (nee Wingender) had a daughter named Dorothy (later Dorothy Bolten).

Bogk died April 10, 1936 of a heart attack after stepping out of a taxi in front of the office of chiropractor L.C. Scharnhorst, 2242 N. Palmer St. Funeral services were held at Lake Park Lutheran Church, where he was a member, and ee was buried at Forest Home Cemetery.

Katherine Bogk – who assumed the role of president of Ricketson upon the death of her husband – remained in the Terrace Avenue house until her death in April 1953.

(Interestingly, her sister, Fannie, appears to have married Frederick Bogk's brother, Edward, who was a partner in Ricketson, and she died while living in the home in February 1954.)

A February 1955 ad listing the house for sale.

The home was purchased by the Elsner family in 1955, and the same family continues to own it today, although Barbara Elsner, now 97, no longer lives in it. Instead, her daughter Margaret Howland lives there with her family.

Elsner, who worked hard to keep the Bogk House intact, was also a key player in preserving the Wright-designed System Built homes on Burnham Street on Milwaukee’s South Side.

According to the listing, “The stately 6,712-square-foot, five-bedroom, 3.5-bath home is a pristine example of Wright’s work from his early period, built to offer privacy as well as welcome in ample natural light.

"The house retains many original decorative elements including leaded glass windows, recessed lighting, built-in cabinetry, and a central fireplace (one of three in the home), illustrating the creative genius of Frank Lloyd Wright.”

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Bogk home is without rival in Milwaukee. It’s one of Wright’s architectural masterpieces; it’s a part of history as well as a work of art, set in a beautiful neighborhood just blocks from the lake,” says Melissa LeGrand of @properties elleven Christie’s International Real Estate, exclusive listing agent for the property.

“We are hoping to find the perfect buyer, someone who loves and appreciates Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, to carry on the legacy of this incredibly special home.”

Note that the Elsner's one-of-a-kind furniture collection, which includes pieces designed specifically for the home, is also being sold, "in the range of $900,000 through Christie’s auction house," according to the listing. "The option to purchase the collection with the house will be viable until mid-October, when the pieces will be removed to be sold separately at auction."

The family hopes to keep the collection in the home, but that is not a requirement of the purchase of the house or the collection.

You can see the complete listing here. It includes much more detailed information about the furniture collection.

Click here to see a cool three-dimensional scan of the house.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.