List of American System-Built Homes (“ASBH”)
designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Wright planned a nation of prefabricated homes to be sold through a network of licensed builders. The design process started around 1911, and in 1915 he built a city block of demonstration units for the Arthur L. Richards company. It is estimated that 25 structures were eventually built, and about 15 survive. The project took a break when America entered the Great War and the War Department intercepted building materials that would have gone to residential construction. When the bigger war ended, smaller battles between Wright and the builder took over to quash the dream.
I have been fortunate to photograph several of the surviving buildings. I present a complete list as researched by Prof. Storrer, with links to those I have viewed through a shutter. Prof. Storrer has designated each basic design as a separate three-digit number, and any homes built using that specific design are assigned a decimal suffix (such as S.203.3, the third home built from the specific design). The builder assigned its own design number, which is also indicated.
The number of surviving structures seems to grow as there have been some controversial recent finds. In his travels, Prof. Storrer has scoured neighborhoods looking for similar buildings not previously attributed to Wright. Since complete records are not kept, he has pieced together designs based on observations, old advertising, and other sources. Sometimes homes have been attributed to other architects who never seem to have claimed ownership of the designs. There are no “smoking guns” in this type of research, and thus the theories must simply be submitted for consideration by other Wright fans. No jury is impaneled to reach an official final decision. Where there is controversy, I will note it in the discussion of the respective property.
Forty years after the American System-Built Homes project ended, Wright teamed with builder Marshall Erdman & Associates to again bring prefabricated houses to market.
S.200 – Arthur R. Munkwitz Duplex Apartments, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (demolished 1973)
S.201 – Arthur L. Richards Duplex Apartments, Milwaukee, Wisconsin [ASBH Model 7a]
S.202 – Arthur L. Richards Small House [ASBH Model B1 or “Cottage B”]
S.202.1 – Arthur L. Richards Small House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
S.202.2 – Chester A. Bragg Residence, Berwyn, Illinois
S.203 – Arthur L. Richards American System-Built Homes Bungalow [ASBH Model C3 or “Cottage A”]
S.203.1 – Richards Bungalow, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
S.203.2 – Lewis E. Burleigh Residence, Wilmette, Illinois
S.203.3 – Ida & Grace McElwain Residence, Lake Bluff, Illinois
S.203.4 – Stephen M.B. Hunt Residence, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
S.203.5 – Owner unknown, Berwyn, Illinois
S.203.6 – Owner unknown, Berwyn, Illinois
S.204 – Arthur L. Richards American System-Built Homes Two-Story Residence [ASBH model number unknown]
S.204.1 – Guy C. Smith Residence, Chicago, Illinois
S.204.2 – H.H. Hyde Residence & garage, Chicago, Illinois
S.204.3 – Oscar A. Johnson Residence, Evanston, Illinois
S.204.4 – Delbert W. Meier Residence, Monona, Iowa
S.204.5 – Wilbert Wynant Residence, Gary, Indiana
S.204.6 – Charles Heisen Residence, Villa Park, Illinois
S.204.7 – Owner unknown, Wilmette, Illinois