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Rare Frank Lloyd Wright concrete house hits market for $1.2M

Designed in the Usonian Automatic style

Photos by John Flack for Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of America’s most prolific and renowned architects, best known for jaw-dropping buildings like Fallingwater, Taliesin West, the Hollyhock House. But hundreds of lesser-known homes are still standing, and sometimes, they come up for sale.

Take this four-bedroom, two-bath home—called the Theodore and Bette Pappas House—in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. Wright designed the house for Ted and Bette Pappas, the original and only owners, in the Usonian Automatic style. Usonians were Wright’s solution to more economical homes, built with no attics and basements and with less ornamentation than some of his other designs.

Usonian Automatics took this idea one step further. Wright created a concrete masonry building system so that materials could be manufactured and sent to the owners in a kit for self-construction. Using different types of inexpensive concrete blocks, the homes proved more challenging to assemble than anticipated, and it’s estimated that only 10 or 20 Usonian Automatic houses were built.

After several years of design, construction began on the Pappas home in 1960. While craftsman made the terra-cotta-tinted concrete blocks and a contractor oversaw the project, the Pappas couple did much of the work themselves. That wasn’t enough to keep the home on budget, however. When the family moved to the home in 1964, final costs were four times the original estimates.

Still, the family home impresses. The focal point of the house is a combined living and dining room with red, squared concrete floors and rich Philippine mahogany trim. The listing comes with the Wright-designed furniture, including the mahogany dining table and chairs. The living room also features a fireplace and a built-in sofa.

Access to a terrace is through two sets of tall floor-to-ceiling glass doors, unique with their glass insets and mitered corners. A kitchen benefits from 12.5-foot ceilings and clerestory windows for added sunlight, and the home’s exposed, deeply coffered blocks make the ceilings a statement piece. All four bedrooms feature mahogany-paneled walls and built-in furniture whenever possible.

The house is one of only two Wright-designed buildings in the area. The other one is the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park in Kirkwood. The Pappas family is currently working with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy to try to find a preservation-minded buyer. If that’s you, 865 Masonridge Road is on the market now for $1,200,000.