January 12, 2005

Wright Homes.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, as some of you prone to poking around in the "Villainous Culture" portion of the sidebar know, is a Frank Lloyd Wright fan. Wright was, in your Maximum Leader's opinion, the greatest architect of the 20th Century. He was a visionary who's concept of architecture was greater than just designing buildings. Wright designed lifestyles and looks that reflected his vision of America.

Additionally, not too many architects would have the balls to call the President of the US to complain that some federal rural electrification agency was putting up power lines that ruined his view. (Although the power lines were a few miles from his property and hardly visible from his sitting room.) Of course Wright, like Thomas Jefferson in this regard, also thought that "The United States of America" was a bad name for our Republic. He suggested we rename the country "Usonia." (Get it "US"-onia.)

And it is because of this Usonian ideal that your Maximum Leader is prompted to write this post. You see a few days ago the following article came across the news wire: Frank Lloyd Wright Homes a Tough Sell. The article details how difficult it is to sell certain Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the modern marketplace.

Indeed. Not many people your Maximum Leader knows would plunk down $1.3 million for a 3800 square foot house with 8 foot ceilings, small kitchens, and no garage (you might get a carport if you are lucky). NB: And your Maximum Leader knows people who have plunked down more than $1.3 million for houses in the past year...

The homeowner in the piece has a "Usonian" house designed by Wright. Now for those of you who may not be familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright's work, in his later life he produced a series of homes he called "Usonian." They were designed to be built by normal people on normal budgets. Wright specified inexpensive (but durable) materials and built small. The typical Usonian house was meant to be built for around $25,000. While the actual budget on these houses often exceeded the $25 figure (in the late 1940s) they were still quite affordable. The Usonian concept was that everyone should be able to afford a solidly built house, fully furnished, that is not derivative of some other architectural style. So, if you commissioned a Usonian house, you got just that. A small affordable house that was definately a "Wright House." Wright could have added garages, or cathedral ceilings. But those added to the cost of the house - so he didn't. (Indeed, to your Maximum Leader's knowledge, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the first house EVER with an attached garage for an automobile. Another Wright first - the drive through window.)

Now your Maximum Leader must return to the article. Not everyone can live in a Wright designed home. Your Maximum Leader would love to live in one. Mrs. Villain would not. To live in a Wright home is to adopt Wright's vision of your lifestyle. You don't bring all the heirloom furniture to the house. It looks out of place and doesn't "fit" the house. (But small descrete PC's with flat-panel displays work remarkably well.) Wright designed the interior and the exterior. And there are other little foibles to his houses. For example, exterior doors on Wright homes tend to be small and tucked out of the way.

This being said, your Maximum Leader still finds it hard to believe that finding buyers for Usonian-era Wright homes is difficult. (The article doesn't mention that Wright's very grand Prarie Style homes have no trouble selling.) Then again, there is also more than a little irony that a house designed to be affordable to "normal" people would now be selling for $1.3 million.

Perhaps those with money to buy a such a home have no class. Or more accurately, they have no sense of taste. Only a sense of ostentation.

Carry on.


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