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American System-Built Homes

Wright designed his American System-Built structures between 1911-1917, motivated by his lifelong interest in affordable housing.

Built

1911-1917

Client

Manufacturer Arthur L. Richards of Milwa

Status

Several Systems-Built homes still stand in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

Collaborating with the Arthur L. Richards factory in Milwaukee, Wright developed a series of standardized houses made up of elements that were pre-cut and shipped for assembly, reducing waste and labor costs. Wright produced over 960 drawings for the project—more than any other in his archives—detailing over thirty unit variations. In 1917, more than a dozen licensed dealers of American Systems-Built Homes opened for business, offering small units for $2,750-$3,500, with large ones ranging from $5,000-$100,000. “I would rather solve the small house problem than build anything else I can think of,” Wright said. The United States’ entry into World War I would soon divert materials to efforts abroad, dooming Wright’s early attempt to provide inexpensive, beautiful housing to Americans at any income.

Wisconsin:
Arthur L. Richards Duplex Apartments, 2720-2734 W. Burnham St., Milwaukee, 53215
Arthur L. Richards Small House, 2714 W. Burnham St., Milwaukee, 53215
Richards Bungalow, 1835 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee, 53215
Stephen M. B. Hunt Residence II, 1165 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh, 54901

Illinois:
Lewis E. Burleigh Residence, 330 Gregory St. Wilmette, 60091
Ida and Grace McElwain Residence, 231 Prospect Ave., Lake Bluff, 60044
Guy C. Smith Residence, 10410 S. Hoyne Ave., Chicago, 60643
H. H. Hyde Residence and Garage, 10541 S. Hoyne Ave., Chicago, 60643
Oscar A. Johnston Residence, 2614 Lincolnwood Dr., Evanston, 60201

Indiana:
Wilbert Wynant Residence, 600 Filmore St., Gary, 46402

Iowa:
Delbert W. Meier Residence, 402 N. Page St., Monona, 52159

News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation