It can seem strange to think of a Frank Lloyd Wright dwelling as a standard product - something that could be built with interchangeable parts and pieces - but American System-Built Homes were exactly that. One of those pieces was Byrkit Lath.
Wright's statement chimney was meant to welcome a visitor like a smoke signal emerging from the heart of the house and saying, "we're home, it's warm in here, and you're invited." But in 1918, it leaked.
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!
To make the main living space behave much larger, Frank Lloyd Wright designed an open and flexible floor plan that could be reconfigured for a special occasion, like a holiday party.
The new book Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House - How an Omission Transformed the Architect’s Legacy, published by the University of Wisconsin Press, will be on store shelves in the spring of 2021.
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.
Upcoming book begins by unravelling a mystery: how might a house designed by the world's most famous architect become lost in the first place?
While the historic Burnham Block represents the optimistic beginning of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first attempt to design modest homes, the Elizabeth Murphy House at 2106 East Newton in Shorewood, Wisconsin, marks the tumultuous end of the American System-Built idea.
Yes, it costs more to live in a historic home and it carries special burdens. But no steward that I know is in it to flip it.
Wright was thinking - forty years before anyone else - of lush walkable neighborhoods featuring long, low affordable homes with shadowy eaves, banks of windows, grassy yards and built-in gardens.