Although he was widely known for his Usonian and Prairie residential designs, Frank Lloyd Wright’s portfolio also included attempts to create affordable housing for the masses.
American System-Built Homes popped up between 1911 and 1917 throughout the Midwest, based on 960 drawings of homes produced by Wright’s firm. Customers were able to choose from seven standard models. However, the project was a rare flop for one of America’s greatest architects. Only around 25 of the homes were built, and just 15 of these dwellings still stand today.
With an asking price of $299,900, it’s available for well below the town’s median listing price of $399,900. This home has bounced on and off the market since 2017, fluctuating between $249,900 and the current price.
Pegged as “a condo alternative,” the property features a two-car detached garage (as Wright fans know, he preferred carports), a finished basement (another pet peeve of Wright’s), along with key tenets of Wright’s designs, like built-ins and a brick fireplace.
The home has just two bedrooms, a single bathroom, as well as a bonus room that could be used as an office, playroom, or den.
Its gorgeous bones are courtesy of Russell Barr Williamson, a draftsman at Wright’s firm. Completed by Williamson in 1919, at a cost of $5,336, the home didn’t snag a buyer until 1922.
“The split between Williamson and Wright was undoubtedly unpleasant,” explains Nicholas D. Hayes, author of “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House: How an Omission Transformed the Architect’s Legacy.”
Hayes lives in the neighborhood and resides in an American System-Built Home known as the Elizabeth Murphy House, so he’s familiar with the home currently for sale.
He says “Williamson was deliberate in bringing his own stamp to this design, detouring from American System-Built Home standards in many ways. The drama gets its own chapter in my book. It’s a doozy.”
The seller recently added a new roof and flooring, as well as updates to the home’s mechanics. An enclosed patio helps contend with Wisconsin’s wildly disparate four seasons.
Robert J. Arnold of Realty Executives Integrity (Northshore) is handling the listing.