Petra Island and its Controversial Frank Lloyd Wright Designed Home for Sale. (55 photos)

The Massaro House and the heart-shaped island upon which it sits are presently available for purchase. The private Petra Island in Lake Mahopac, New York comes complete with the questionable Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Massaro House plus stunning guest house and is now listed on the market by realtors Chilton and Chadwick.

Massaro House on Petra Island

Massaro House on Petra Island

Petra Island is an 11 acre heart-shaped private island in the middle of Lake Mahopac aroud 50 miles north of New York City (a 15-minute helicopter ride from Manhattan).

Much of the island is heavily wooded but among the greenery sits a 5,000 square foot home, guest house, an additional guest house, tea house and dock that have a unique architectural history.

Back in 1949 an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the home on Petra Island which Chahroudi owned. But the $50,000 price tag on the 5,000 square foot house was more than Chahroudi could afford, so Wright designed him a smaller, more affordable cottage elsewhere on the island.

Joe Massaro in front of the home in 2004
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1949-50 architectural sketches of the home

It was 1996 when Joseph Massaro, a sheet metal contractor, bought the island for the price of $700,000 which included Wright’s original yet unfinished plans. Massaro claimed he intended to merely spruce up the existing cottage, without constructing anything new, but in 2000 Massaro sold his business and hired Thomas A. Heinz, an architect and Wright historian, to complete and update the design.

While the home has many of the earmarks of a FLW home, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation refuses to accept the house as authentic and they even tried to sue Massaro for claiming so. Massaro completed the house in 2004, fending off lawsuits by stating his intent not to sell.

Archpaper reports that FLW purists cite four details in Massaro’s house that Wright would never have approved of had he been alive to see its construction. First, the decorative “rubblestone,” a Wright trademark, is not flush in Massaro’s home, but protrude from the wall—a major Wright no-no. Second, the home’s 26 skylights are domed, not flat, a choice Massaro apparently made citing flat skylights’ propensity to leak (sealants, anyone?). Third, an exterior stairway that appears in several of Wright’s original drawings was nixed by Massaro, as it would have landed in three feet of water due to the island’s changed coastline. Lastly, Wrightians claim that the copper fascia are too shallow, a seemingly petty point of contention, but as Wright house owner Rich Herber pointed out, “It’s the small details we’ll never know about.”

Original Frank Lloyd Wright plans for the home

Built largely to the renowned modernist’s original plans, it’s a geometric sliver that hugs the westerly side of the 11-acre island. Low-lying, it juts over the craggy rocks, its horizontal planes supported by stone pillars. Its cement inlaid with stonework blends into the scenery and contrasts with all that glazing. There are more rocky outcrops inside, which are offset by the mahogany woodwork and warm colors of the furniture and murals.


The house is placed on the exact location chosen by Wright in 1959, when he designed it. Main residence is 5,000-square feet and has decks totaling an additional 2,000-square feet, including the largest cantilever deck ever designed by Wright.

All woodwork custom-built to Wright’s specifications from African mahogany. The home is fully air-conditioned, with all modern conveniences and 6 wood-burning fireplaces.

The Guest House:

It also has a helipad on the roof and room for a pool, tennis court and whatever else you might wish to build.

Asking price: $14.92m (£11.6m).

Interested? Inquire about the property here.

images courtesy of Travel & Leisure and Chilton and Chadwick

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2 thoughts on “Petra Island and its Controversial Frank Lloyd Wright Designed Home for Sale. (55 photos)

  • October 22, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Why would they doubt it? Chahroudi knew the Kaufmann’s (Fallingwater)….Massaro, also a Pittsburgher. Some weird connections there so if its not FLW, its a bunch of coincidences.

  • October 23, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Those “climbing rock” walls inside and out are hideous. Sometimes holding back just a tad can go a long way. FLW would not have approved of that. He used rock texture in a tasteful manner, never anything as gaudy as that. It looks like they were trying to go for the Taliesin West house treatment and failed miserably.

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