The Enduring Appeal Of Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Homes

The Stuart Richardson House in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Houses, the Richardson House is has a one-story, low-slung profile located in leafy Glen Ridge, New Jersey, just a 35-minute train ride from Manhattan.

Stuart Richardson House

Last week the historic preservation community took notice when the Stuart Richardson House was offered for sale. Located in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the house was built in 1941 and designed as a Usonian House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Usonia was the famed architect’s word for the United States and for his vision for the landscape of the country, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings. 

The Richardson House is an 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home in a leafy suburb listed for $1.2 million. The current owners, who bought it in 2016, benefited from extensive restoration work done by the previous owners, who lived there for 20 years.

“We are longtime Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts who had toured and stayed overnight in his houses,” say the current owners, who are selling the house without a realtor. 

“We have loved living here, it’s enchanting. The natural colors and woodwork encourage relaxation, which makes the home a respite for anyone who works in the city. The big windows make it a wonderful place for animal spotting. All the eccentric touches give the structure a distinct personality, so you develop an almost personal relationship with it. It sometimes feels less like a home and more like a beloved family pet.”

Exciting as a Frank Lloyd Wright house for sale may be to architecture buffs, it is not unusual.

“We typically see 15 to 20 Wright houses on the market at any given time,” says John Waters, preservation programs manager at the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in Chicago. The non-profit acts as a networking organization for Wright scholars and enthusiasts, and, on its website, keeps an active list of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings on the market. Currently, listing prices range from $175,000 for the Foster House located in Chicago to $62.95 million for the Marden House, the guest house of an estate in McLean, Virginia.

The most famous Wright house on the list is the Ennis House, one of his Mayan-revival designs perched above the city of Los Angeles. It has served as the backdrop in films, commercials and television shows including Mulholland Drive, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Predator 2, Beverly Hills Cop II and Blade Runner. Restored after it was damaged in the Northridge earthquake, the Ennis House is listed for $23 million.

“One Wright house sold in one day, but that is unusual,” Waters says. “They stay on the market for varying lengths; 18 months on the market is not unusual.”

“There are people looking for a Wright house, others are looking for a well-designed house with a high aesthetic quality. Our role is to notify the public that one of his houses is for sale. We help people if they need advice, and we link them with other Wright homeowners.”

Values, he says, are driven by the real estate industry’s mantra of location. 

“On the east and west coasts, where real estate is hot, prices are higher.” 

He describes matching a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house to a new owner as, “Like a marriage – you have to find the right person.”

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Last week the historic preservation community took notice when the Stuart Richardson House was offered for sale. Located in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the house was built in 1941 and designed as a Usonian House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Usonia was the famed architect’s word for the United States and for his vision for the landscape of the country, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings. 

The Richardson House is an 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home in a leafy suburb listed for $1.2 million. The current owners, who bought it in 2016, benefited from extensive restoration work done by the previous owners, who lived there for 20 years.

“We are longtime Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts who had toured and stayed overnight in his houses,” say the current owners, who are selling the house without a realtor. 

“We have loved living here, it’s enchanting. The natural colors and woodwork encourage relaxation, which makes the home a respite for anyone who works in the city. The big windows make it a wonderful place for animal spotting. All the eccentric touches give the structure a distinct personality, so you develop an almost personal relationship with it. It sometimes feels less like a home and more like a beloved family pet.”

Exciting as a Frank Lloyd Wright house for sale may be to architecture buffs, it is not unusual.

“We typically see 15 to 20 Wright houses on the market at any given time,” says John Waters, preservation programs manager at the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in Chicago. The non-profit acts as a networking organization for Wright scholars and enthusiasts, and, on its website, keeps an active list of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings on the market. Currently, listing prices range from $175,000 for the Foster House located in Chicago to $62.95 million for the Marden House, the guest house of an estate in McLean, Virginia.

The most famous Wright house on the list is the Ennis House, one of his Mayan-revival designs perched above the city of Los Angeles. It has served as the backdrop in films, commercials and television shows including Mulholland Drive, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Predator 2, Beverly Hills Cop II and Blade Runner. Restored after it was damaged in the Northridge earthquake, the Ennis House is listed for $23 million.

“One Wright house sold in one day, but that is unusual,” Waters says. “They stay on the market for varying lengths; 18 months on the market is not unusual.”

“There are people looking for a Wright house, others are looking for a well-designed house with a high aesthetic quality. Our role is to notify the public that one of his houses is for sale. We help people if they need advice, and we link them with other Wright homeowners.”

Values, he says, are driven by the real estate industry’s mantra of location. 

“On the east and west coasts, where real estate is hot, prices are higher.” 

He describes matching a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house to a new owner as, “Like a marriage – you have to find the right person.”

I learned about historic houses from the best: owners who lovingly preserved and restored them, and preservationists who shared their knowledge. When I first began to w

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