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"Lost" Frank Lloyd Wright Home Rediscovered in Milwaukee

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Frank Lloyd Wright's extensive body of work, 433 projects at last count, has been meticulously documented for decades. However, as of June 5, researchers will have to make room for 434 designs, as a scholar in Milwaukee recently unearthed a Wright home hidden in plain sight. According to Urban Milwaukee, research by the late Richard G. Johnson, an assistant at Northwestern University, prompted Mark Lilek, curator of American System-Built Homes at Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, to dig into the history of the house on 2106 East Newton Avenue and discover the previously unheralded structure was actually an original Wright design. The first such discovery in a decade, it points to a particularly difficult chapter in Wright's life.

Built in 1917, a time during which Wright was suffering fallout from his affair with Mahmah Borthwick and her subsequent death in 1914, the home was constructed by the American System-Built Homes enterprise, which worked with the architect to create affordable housing (Milwaukee's Burnham District, which contains six of these homes, was added to the National Register of Historic Places). Wright had evidently brought the organization to trial, asserting they had utilized his original plans without his knowledge in this particular case, but scholars suggest Wright didn't press the case at the time, not wanting to add to his notoriety.

The structure, which includes built-ins, has been mostly unaltered, save the addition of an enclosed porch and garage built beneath the main floor in 1976. The fair market value of the home was estimated at $225,100 before the Wright connection was established.

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