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.


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.

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