Contributing Editor

Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 25 years. She most recently served as senior editor of design for Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, and is now a contributing editor to those publications as well as the portal Web site HousingZone.com. Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at susanbady@sbcglobal.net.

Owning a Wright home comes at a price

It’s well known that Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, while they’re architectural masterpieces, often have structural issues such as leaky roofs. Wright also disdained such modern must-haves as large kitchens and abundant storage.

Surviving examples of Wright’s residential work are getting close to 100 years old, so they need a lot of maintenance and repair. According to an article in the May 17 issue of the Wall Street Journal, there are 20 Wright homes in eight states now on the market, some at reduced prices. But owning an original Wright is not for the faint of heart, or the light of wallet. Those who can afford the purchase of one need to be prepared to shell out still more on renovations.
 
One of the more extreme examples is a home near a river in Millstone, N.J, that is so prone to flooding it will have to be dismantled, moved, and reassembled on a different site. The asking price of $2.5 to $3 million includes the moving and reconstruction, plus original Wright furniture and a consultation with the current owners, who are a designer and architect. 
 
Another home in Pasadena, Calif., the Millard House (which Wright called “La Miniatura”), is available for $4.5 million — down from $7.7 million in 2008. The Millard House has concrete block walls, many with a cross pattern that lets in light. Wright was ahead of his time with this type of construction; unfortunately, the house leaks during a heavy rain. 
 
Nevertheless, people who have lived in Wright houses for years are wistful about moving out. As one owner said, “The house is magical.” I know what she’s talking about. Every time I walk through a Wright home or building, I feel a special connection. You can’t put a price on that.

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