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Legal Battle Stalls Wright House Finish : 'Handyman' Anxious to Show How Good Place Can Look

January 04, 1987|From United Press International

BEAVER DAM, Wis. — Only a pair of lawsuits stand between a Wisconsin man and his dream of owning "Skyview," an unfinished home designed by world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Michael Wissell, a self-styled handyman, said he hopes to show residents in this Indian Hills subdivision how good the house can look.

"I feel I've got something to prove," he said.

Wissell and his partners, Barbara and Andy Spatanuta of Long Beach, N.Y., have offered $35,200 for the 1954 home. That offer was accepted by the home's present owner, Patricia Fecht of Arleta, Calif.

Contributing to History

The Spatanutas, who say they are greatly interested in Frank Lloyd Wright, would pay most of the costs and leave the management of the project to Wissell.

"It's a little contribution we can make towards the history of the country," Barbara Spatanuta said.

However, neighbors of Skyview, David and Gail Jaeger and local developer Norris Bussie, filed lawsuits last summer against Fecht because the the house was not completed within the subdivision's one-year limit for construction.

The plaintiffs request that the house be completed or demolished within 60 days. A trial date of Feb. 17 has been set.

Controversy and tragedy have surrounded the Skyview project since it arrived in Beaver Dam in 1985.

Christopher Fecht and his grandfather, D. P. Drennan of Beaver Dam, bought the house in January, 1985, for $1 on the condition they move it from its site near Madison, Wis.

Fighting adverse winter conditions, Fecht moved the house in three pieces and began reconstructing it.

He committed suicide in July, 1985, and Drennan died last March, leaving the unfinished house to Fecht's mother, Patricia.

Despite the lawsuits and tragedies surrounding the home, Wissell said he is confident the suits will be settled and the home completed.

Hopes for Settlement

"From last conversations with everyone involved, I'm pretty optimistic it will get settled," said the 32-year-old handyman.

Wissell said he first learned how to fix up other things as a child while living on farms in Illinois and Hustisford, Wis. Since that time, he has learned to remodel and repair homes by reading and experimenting.

If the purchase is completed, Wissell plans to follow Wright's original design exactly and then apply to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wissell hopes to live in the house when it is completed.

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