‘Weird shaped house’ becomes dream home for musical family

May 21, 2023, 10:17 PM | Updated: May 23, 2023, 1:28 pm

PROVO, Utah — A Provo couple wasn’t planning to buy a house when they moved back to town about 10 years ago, but the house had other ideas.

“We love to say that the wand chooses the wizard, and the house kind of chose us. It felt like it was meant to be,” Liz Maxfield said.

Maxfield is a cellist, and her husband, Andrew Maxfield, is a composer. They were moving from Wisconsin to Provo for a job and were only planning to rent — at least initially.

However, when she started looking at the online classified ads, she forgot to deselect the “buy” option. The first property that popped up was a uniquely-shaped midcentury modern home. ‘Oh, that’s kind of a cool mid-mod,’ she thought. ‘What a weird-shaped house.’

The “A-frame” home on KSL classifieds. (KSL TV)

” It was equal parts weird and cool,” Andrew Maxfield said.

It was in the Tree Streets area. They had always liked that neighborhood. It had what could be a rental unit. They had talked about someday owning a property that could also generate income.

The clincher, though, was buried a few lines down in the property description: “acoustically engineered music room.”

“And I think my jaw dropped,” Liz Maxfield recalled.

The home was designed and built by the homeowner, Ephraim Hatch, then 92. It was where he and his wife, Verena raised their six children, and it came with a 20-foot tall A-frame music room with a pipe organ and 9-foot grand piano. He built the room and the organ and refurbished the piano for his wife, a musician.

Liz and Andrew Maxfield with the late Ephraim Hatch. (KSLTV)

Liz Maxfield called her father, who lived in Provo and visited the property that day.

“Well, if they’re interested in using the music room for music, it’s theirs,” Hatch told him.

The house needed a lot of work, so the Maxfields eventually began a three-month remodel, that lasted ten months.

“We were the general contractors on record,” Andrew Maxfield said. “We did the demolition with our own sledgehammers and built all the walls, pulled all the wire, and did all the plumbing. It was wild.”

They brought the structure up to code and now, about once a month, open the doors of what they now call the “A-frame” to the community for house concerts – jazz, classical, folk, hip-hop – and other arts and community events.

One of the mini concerts hosted at the house. (KSLTV)

Both Maxfields come from musical families. Andrew began playing piano at five. Liz Maxfield was performing with her family by age 10.

“Music is definitely a way that I connect with the people around me, with the world around me, and with my family,” she said.

And now, Andrew Maxfield said the performances are “just part of the atmosphere, part of the water.”

The Hatches are no longer living, but thanks to Andrew and Liz Maxfield, and their two young sons, the A-frame is still full of life and music.

“It meant a lot to them that it would pass from one music family to another. And I think we’ve used the room and in the spirit that it was created,” Andrew Maxfield said. Hundreds of people have been in and out of our home as kind of a quasi-public space to enjoy performances and a sense of community. It makes us happy and I think it probably makes them happy, wherever they are now.”

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‘Weird shaped house’ becomes dream home for musical family