We Built Our Own Frank Lloyd Wright Designed House

Learn how one determined couple built their own home with plans from famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

| July/August 1972

  • Frank Lloyd Wright House
    Learn how one couple had their house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright just for asking.
    Photo by Karl Staley

  • Frank Lloyd Wright House

Many visitors have asked us how we got Frank Lloyd Wright, supposedly a "rich man's architect," to design our low-cost house . . . especially when we planned to build it ourselves. The simple truth is that we just asked!

Of course, we were a mite nervous about making the request. But we had seen a picture in his book, THE NATURAL HOUSE, (Horizon Press, 1954), which showed the Jacobs home — near Madison, Wisconsin — and which bore the intriguing caption: "cost in 1937: $5,500, including architect's fee." Two other simple (and simply beautiful) houses had also caught our attention: the $10,000 Willey place in Minneapolis, and the $9,500 Winkler structure in Okemos, Michigan. These homes seemed well within our budget.

We had already ruled out constructing from the $5 to $50 builder's plans available in most "home" magazines because we knew too many folks who'd come to grief using them, and because we knew that a good architect would save us his fee and then some just with advice on materials and techniques.

So, after visiting the Wright-designed Weltzheimer house in Oberlin, Ohio, and Wright's own "summer school of architecture," Taleisin — in Spring Green, Wisconsin — we worked up the courage
to write him. I can still remember the first sentence of the note. . .

Dear Mr. Wright: The sumac is right pretty in our wood lot. But we have no home of our own.  

On impulse, I enclosed a sprig of bright-red sumac.

12/1/2017 1:15:47 PM

That is the Karl A. Staley House was designed in 1950[1] by Frank Lloyd Wright!

12/1/2017 11:52:14 AM

This is the Karl A. Staley House was designed in 1950[1] by Frank Lloyd Wright.


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