Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture will have a rare opportunity to tour the only three Usonian houses he designed in the Detroit area on Saturday, June 4, four days before the renowned architect’s 149th birthday.
The Gregor and Elizabeth Affleck House and the Melvyn Maxwell Smith House are in Bloomfield Hills, and the Dorothy H. Turkel House is in the Palmer Woods section of Detroit.
The event, which costs $150 per person, includes a guided tour of each home, transportation in a luxury motor coach between the homes, and a hearty hors d’oeuvres and birthday cake reception at Lawrence Technological University’s campus in Southfield. Participants should arrive at the campus at 21000 W. 10 Mile Road in Southfield by 11:30 a.m. for registration. The tour begins at noon. Tour buses will return to Lawrence Tech by 4:30 p.m. for the reception. Please note that these historic homes are not handicap accessible and the tour involves significant walking and standing.
Wright began designing Usonian houses during the Great Depression in the 1930s. His goal was to create houses with a unique North American identity that would be affordable for middle-class families. Usonian houses are typically small, single-story buildings constructed of native materials, featuring flat roofs, and natural heating and cooling. The Affleck House was built in 1941 and donated to Lawrence Tech in 1978 as a teaching resource for the University’s College of Architecture and Design. The Turkel House was built in 1955 based on Wright’s book, “The Natural House.” The Smith house, built in 1946, features natural cooling and radiant heating through hot water pipes installed in the floor slab. Wright visited the house several times, calling it “my little gem.”
A portion of the proceeds will benefit restoration projects at LTU’s Affleck House, as well as restoration of the Smith House, now owned by the Maxwell and Sara Stein Smith Foundation. $75 of the ticket cost may be tax deductible; consult your tax professional. To register, call LTU at (248) 204-2303 or go to https://www.lawrencetech.net/FLWBirthdayBash.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
Photo: James Haefner