Restored Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian Goes on the Market in Michigan

frank-lloyd-wright-michigan

Commissioned by Samuel and Dorothy Eppstein and built in 1953, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom Usonian home in Galesburg, MI, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s registered on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy.

Now on the market for $455,000, it’s the cheapest Wright home currently for sale in the country, according to listing agent Fred Taber of Jaqua Realtors. It’s also the only Wright home for sale in Michigan — and it features many of Wright’s signature elements: a concrete-block floor-to-ceiling fireplace, built-ins, low and slanted ceilings, and radiant-floor heating. There’s also an in-ground cement pool in the yard. Ten-foot windows in the living room coax nature inside…

8 Responses to Restored Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian Goes on the Market in Michigan

  1. Peter says:

    From an aesthetic viewpoint, Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential buildings are certainly beautiful, but I have very mixed feelings about the man. His contempt for trivial issues of structural integrity have left generations of home owners facing crippling costs to repair leaky roofs, crumbling foundations and similar horrors. The spectacular balcony on Fallingwater, his signature house, would have collapsed into the creek long ago if the builder had not incurred Wright’s rage by surreptitiously adding extra structural steel. He rejected all criticism, suggestions and comments on his designs from whatever quarter as attacks on his professional ability.

    A very difficult man and a flawed genius, but a genius nonetheless!

  2. Anon says:

    Peter…
    I agree entirely…
    “His contempt for trivial issues of structural integrity have left generations of home owners facing crippling costs to repair leaky roofs, crumbling foundations and similar horrors – See more at: http://www.theshelterblog.com/restored-frank-lloyd-wright-usonian-goes-market-michigan/#comments

    I have no architectural skills, other than a lifelong LOVE and yearning to study architectural details (can recall doing same as a small child)…
    That comment of yours is something I have long wondered about, and considered a deficit in his “designs”.

    This little house above, I do like, I like more about it/inside, than most any other of his buildings I have looked at (in pics). And, I have not by any means gone looking for his, as I don’t like them. I find his designs (to my mind) look “commercial” and not inviting or “homey”.

    I once raised similar concerns of which you speak to an architect I happened to be at a get together with, and his response to me,
    was that (more or less)
    it is only the architects job to “think it up” and draw it on paper..
    according to him, it was the “Engineer’s job” to make it safe / work/stick together..

    as I say, I have no background in this, except to love looking at these things,
    but I strongly disagree.

    I have always thought that if one hired an architect, one expected a product /prints that could pretty much be put down /built as drawn.

    • Peter says:

      You are right to be confused about the role of an architect.

      Everything depends on the contract between client and architect, but any qualified architect must not only be able to design a building that meets the client’s needs but must be able to manage the construction of this building to ensure that it meets the design requirements. Obviously, the architect cannot handle every technical detail of the process but must rely on other professionals, such as a general contractor and a structural engineer, to manage work in their area of expertise. Nevertheless, the architect is ultimately responsible for the delivery of the building.

      Anyone who can only think up a design and draw a plan is not a professional architect. At best, he or she is an architectural draftsperson.

      Incidentally, Frank Lloyd Wright started as an architectural draftsman and never qualified as an architect in the U.S.A. This could account for a lot of the structural problems with his beautiful buildings.

      • Anon says:

        omg….Such interesting info….
        “Frank Lloyd Wright started as an architectural draftsman and never qualified as an architect in the U.S.A. “… Had no idea….(of course, as mentioned, I don’t much care for his work, so I have never made any effort to “read up” on him)

        At first, one might be tempted to say, “that explains a lot”, but really I myself don’t think so…except in a round about sort of way…(to my mind). Now that you say that, I suspect that someone made a fuss / hullabaloo over his first work in the States, and it went to his head. I suspect it was ego from enjoying the fuss/fame etc.., that made him plunge ahead… His name has such legend…

        I suggest above, because I would think that anyone who does any job for years and years (even an architectural draftsman) would / should get to know/get a feeling, when certain aspects of design/location were lacking. That he (Wright) does not seem to have, indicates to me he was not interested in do so..

        Many years back we lived in a smallish city, and were moving, to an even smaller city. We decided to build a / have designed a house. There were some architects in the city we were at, but we had no experience what to ask/who to hire/ etc etc etc.. I called up several banks, and ask to speak to the managers in charge of New Design Builds, residential (yes, there was such a job tittle)….I explained what we hoped to do, and out lack of experience etc.. and asked all which architect they would recommend. Got the same answer back from each…Basically, while they had customers who had used the local architects, the best plans/least problems/happiest clients all used one particular person, and they gave us his name.
        He was an architectural draftsman. Had no idea at the time, and questioned these folks a lot. They suggested we meet with him, and if I still wanted they would pass on to me other names.

        We met, and he designed our house. He was rather amazing. Seemed to know what we wanted (I wanted), even before I did some times.
        And his plans were so explicit/detailed, that the builder, tradesmen, inspectors were stunned at it all. They had not had this level previous. Build went well. So, my only experience in design was with an architectural draftsman, and it went well. Guess that is a big reason I lean away from that being the cause of Wright’s “curious lapses”…

      • Anon says:

        This has always seemed to my mind amongst the “things” one should be able to rely on an architect for..

        http://christinepilgrim.com/docs/Henry%20Yorke%20Mann.pdf

        “When asked to explain the role of the architect, he replies, “It covers a wide range of activities and
        responsibilities that can be grouped into three phases: Preliminary Design, Working Drawing
        development and Construction.”

        The first priority is to listen to the client’s desires, concerns, needs and wants. As important is the
        ability to listen ‘between the lines’ for subtle informative details. The architect must also listen to
        the site, perceiving not only its topography and climate, but assimilating its essence. Early in the
        Preliminary Design stage, clients are asked to openly express what they hope to achieve in the new
        structure, how they go about their daily activities and what is truly important in their lives.

        The architect distills the collection of the client’s dreams, impressions and information, together with
        hard core practicalities like surveys, zoning, building code, structural engineering and
        heating/cooling, into a set of sketches which are then reviewed with the client. Budget and
        sustainability are also discussed.”

        etc…

  3. Anon says:

    okay, just to be fair, I clicked through and looked at this one above again..

    guess I don’t like it as much as I thought..

    I scrolled down the pics quickly , and suddenly was looking at the back end of the home,
    and thought

    “gee, it looks a lot like the outside of the building attached to small community outdoor swimming pools I have seen”

    (okay, maybe those who built those outdoor swimming pools which seem similar to me had the inspiration of great architecture??? — or maybe not)

    • Rick Gordon says:

      That’s EXACTLY what I thought: “Gee, it looks a lot like the outside of the building attached to small community outdoor swimming pools I have seen.”

      • Anon says:

        Rick,
        Thank You.

        I wasn’t sure I should put that thought down….but am glad to know the thought is “shared”.

        I ran into someone local who was a big fan (a few yrs back), and I was surprised that a usually thoughtful person seemed so influenced by the propaganda of Wright. Okay, I am going to push it further….I would say, he was mostly just a good salesman. Not a good Architect.

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