Though Wright designed over a hundred modest American System-Built Homes he quickly cancelled the program with only twenty or so built and filed away the drawings forever when he realized that his art would not be preserved if its occupants didn't themselves participate in the preservation.
If you had created something, a piece of art, for example, that was subsequently altered by others in ways that you disapproved, would you want that object preserved?
Did Frank Lloyd Wright plan to furnish his American System-Built Homes? Evidence suggests that limited studio resources left most owners to their own decorative devices.
Matthew Smith - an expert in fine leaded art glass - points out that Frank Lloyd Wright's motif in the Elizabeth Murphy House reflects the proportions of the Elizabeth Murphy House herself.
Wright and Richards were exploring ways to ensure quality while lowering costs in the American System. So cabinet doors were built of "ply" fifteen years before "plywood" became a thing.
A group of ASBH owners have been meeting and collaborating in the last few years (first physically and then virtually), sharing ideas, tours, parts and pieces and pictures to study, and have even been purchasing materials for renovations in bulk to ensure affordability and continuity. Six of the homes are represented!
The level of Wright's brilliance and forethought contained on this one page seems stunning - out of this world - to us amateurs.
If you, like many fans of Frank Lloyd Wright, are on the hunt for a long-lost American System-Built Home, here is a simple tool that you can use in your field work and that may tell you if you're warm.
We were expecting some attention when we moved into this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, but we were surprised at how it would open our minds.
For Wright, American System-Built Homes met a complex design challenge: to create affordable beautiful modest homes. But for Richards, the ASBH program was one item on vast menu of real estate products he could offer.