Wright’s American System Homes

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Yesterday I went to Milwaukee where I toured two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System Built Homes. In the early 20th century, Wright wanted to design beautiful, affordable homes. He designed a number of components for houses and the idea was that the buyers could choose which parts they wanted in their house.  The house above is 800 square feet and has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and small dining area.

A non-profit in Milwaukee bought this home and restored it. On this street there is a duplex by Wright and another Wright home, which is now a VRBO accommodation. There are pictures online and I’m not a fan of the white, modern kitchen. The house above has been completely restored and I could live there happily ever after, though I’d like a different stove.

When built, these homes were priced on par with comparable houses at $3,000 circa 1916.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Duplexes

On the tour we learned about how Wright partnered with Mr. Robinson, a builder. Wright left for Japan and allowed Robinson to start building. While Wright was away, Robinson changed which materials would be used in the homes, swapping Wright’s materials for cheaper ones. They weren’t shoddy, but weren’t up to Wright’s standards.

Down the street was a duplex that this non-profit has purchased. Now the first duplex is about to be restored. It’s bare bones now, but still interesting to see. I plan to go back in a few years when it’s finished.

There are more of these American System Built Homes throughout the Midwest. Our docent believes there are several that are covered up with siding and the owners may not know their significance.

Goldcoast Glitzy Tour

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Today I went on the Chicago History Museum‘s Goldcoast Glitzy Walking Tour. The tour focused on homes built for the rich between the 1880s and 1930. It’s hard to believe all the changes in styles and technology in just 50s years.

The guide was quite knowledgeable as were some of those taking the tour. We saw and learned about the home Joseph Medill, who ran the Chicago Tribune and arranged for Abraham Lincoln to run for president, bought for his daughter, the home of Samuel Insull, who made and later lost a fortune in electricity before it was a regulated utility, and several families I’d never heard of. It was particularly interesting that a few of the others on the tour knew a lot about Chicago history and chimed in with facts. Also, some would look up property values on Zillow.com and share the prices. Needless to say I’m not about to afford a home on the Goldcoast anytime soon.

I was sad to see the occasional 1960s apartment complex wedged between grand, elegant houses. These families lacked that Downton Abbey spirit to save the family home at all costs.

Zillow: $3.6 million est.

Zillow: $3.6 million est.

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Zillow: est $3.6 million

Zillow: est $3.6 million