Vander Beke I, known to some as the “Kite House”, is the first of two John Randal McDonald designs built for Mr. and Mrs. Vander Beke in the Lake Michigan Highlands of Cudahy, Wi.
Dr. George E. Vander Beke was the Director of Admissions at Marquette University – Lucy was an artist, mentored by her friend, distant relative and nationally renown artist, Sister Thomasita Fessler. Sister Thomasita was a strong influence on Lucy and was very insistent that the Vander Bekes consider JRMcD as their future architect.
Preliminary plans were begun in 1949, during JRMcD’s first year back in Wisconsin after receiving his Master’s Degree at Yale. The first Vander Beke House was built in 1951. It became McDonald’s 9th completed project.
“A raised balcony was adapted for the best lake view and was lifted from a Roman brick foundation. The “balcony” lends the chalet character many people have observed.”
McDonald said: “The building must be an honest reflection of the land from which it grows and the use to which it is to be put; requirements of climate must be met; economy of construction must be considered; materials must be strong and sincere.”
“But, in addition, it is the responsibility of the architect to create an environment that go beyond normal satisfaction – to the point of suggesting more sensitive, complete living patterns.”
McDonald speaking on “Contemporary Home Planning” at an exhibit of modern homes and furnishings at Sister Tomasita’s San Damiano Studio, Cardinal Stritch College, 1950. Milwaukee Journal, March 6, 1950