TreeHugger: by Lloyd Alter

One of the great pilgrimages that all architects do is to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece in the Laurel Highlands an hour and a half south of Pittsburgh. I never had done it, always hating car trips, but finally did recently. You can't stay in Fallingwater; you can't even touch anything in it, as it is now a museum (and the subject of another slideshow). However, 40 minutes away, you can stay in Frank Lloyd Wright's Duncan House.

The Duncan House is no Fallingwater (and I am no photographer) but it is fascinating in its own way, and there is much that can be learned from it. It also is available both for touring and you can stay in it overnight, as we did before continuing to Fallingwater.

It is one of Wright's Usonian houses, designed to be affordable for the average middle class American family. The intent was that it would cost $ 5,500 in 1953 dollars. (According to this inflation calculator, that's about $50,000 today) They were also designed around the modern American family, who owned cars, modern appliances but did not have servants like so many of Wright's clients did before WWII.

The Duncan's bought the plans from Wright and built the house near Chicago. As the suburbs expanded, the house was bought by a developer, who gave the house to local Frank Lloyd Wright fans, who were given 90 days to take it apart.

After a long, complicated journey it ended up at Polymath Park in Acme, Pennsylvania (I looked for the anvil factory but couldn't find it) where Tom and Heather Papinchak reconstructed it, on a property that already had two small homes designed by Wright disciple Peter Berndtson. All three homes can be rented. (More information on rental here)

The truly remarkable thing about the Duncan House is how modern it is, how Frank Lloyd Wright figured out how people would live in the new world of the 1950s. And he was designing this house when he was in his nineties! So while there is a fancy front door, most people in the family would enter from the carport, right into the kitchen like they do in suburban houses to this day.

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