About Petra Island

In 1949, architect Frank Lloyd Wright received a commission from an engineer named A. K. Chahroudi to build a house on the 11-acre Petra Island, which Chahroudi owned. Wright worked on designing a one-story, 5000 sq. ft. house for three months, but the project was cancelled when Chahroudi realized he was not able to afford the $50,000 budget that Wright envisioned for the project, nor a second more modest version requested of Wright. Instead, Wright designed a 1200 sq. ft. cottage for Chahroudi for the island.

All that survived of the original Chahroudi commission were five Wright drawings, including a floor plan with ideas for built-in and stand-alone furniture, a building section, and three elevations.

In the early 1950’s Mr. Wright, while working on the Guggenheim Museum in N.Y.C was asked by the Brewer’s family to design a house for them on a piece of land they owned in Fishkill, N.Y.

In the book “Many Masks the Life of Frank Lloyd Wright” written by Brendan Gillon (page 493) Mr. Wright states that after he explored the property he believed he could use the house he designed for the Chahroudi family on Petra Island, and after it was completed it was “even more beautiful than Fallingwater”. The Brewer’s house was never built. The Chahroudi design was finally built on Petra Island on the exact spot selected by Mr. Wright, it is now the Massaro House.

Massaro House is a private island residence inspired by designs of a never-constructed project conceived by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is named for its owner, Joseph Massaro. It is located on the privately owned Petra Island in Lake Mahopac, New York.

Massaro hired Thomas A. Heinz, an architect and Wright historian expert, to complete the unfinished design. Heinz employed 3D CAD/CAM computer software to model aspects of Wright’s design not self-evident in the original renderings. His design also provided updated heating and cooling solutions that were not part of the original Wright concept, such as air conditioning and radiant heating which didn’t exist in the early 1950’s. It was also determined to add chimney caps, which Wright characteristically demurred, for the home’s six fireplaces.

In common with Fallingwater, the house’s design does not merely accommodate but actually incorporates the island’s topography. A 12 ft. high, 60 ft. long rock forms the exterior to the entry and an interior wall, while a smaller rock doubles as a kitchen and bathroom wall. Again, like Fallingwater’s signature terraces, the house features a cantilevered deck that stretches 25 ft. over Lake Mahopac. Its 18 ft. high living area is illuminated with 26 triangular skylights.