Monday, December 06, 2004

Wright-Designed Milwaukee Home Is Sold

By Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Norman Gabrielsen didn't know anything about famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright when he bought his stucco house on Burnham Street 40 years ago, only that the home "was built so nice." "Big sunroom, skylight, lots of windows. Fireplace in the middle of the house," the 80-year-old said.

The house is now considered a treasure, one of a unique row of six Prairie-style dwellings designed by Wright and built in 1915-16 as part of his mission to bring affordable, high-quality designs to working-class families. Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, a preservation group, recently bought the home for $130,000 and plans to restore it and open it to the public.

The Burnham Street houses -- four duplexes and two single-family homes -- are the only intact cluster of affordable Wright homes in the country, although a handful were built in the Midwest before the start of World War I. The so-called American System-Built homes, which sold for about $5,000, were a collaboration between the architect and developer Arthur Richards.

Although best known for sprawling, earth-hugging homes in the countryside, Wright was interested in creating low-cost shelters in urban neighborhoods and believed people of all economic classes were entitled to good architecture.

Denise Hice, president of Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, said the preservation group hopes to acquire the other houses in the cluster over time -- or at least to encourage their rehabilitation.

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