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Frank Lloyd Wright

American System-Built Home, Frank Lloyd Wright, history

It’s Almost Here! Buy Our Book about The Meier House and American System-Built Homes!

07/05/2021
This American House - The Book!

We recently got our mitts on a copy of our forthcoming book, This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meier House and the American System-Built Homes, and It. Is. Gorgeous. We consider ourselves fortunate to have worked with the talented editors and designers at Pomegranate. They were a dream team throughout the journey – even when a global pandemic and supply chain issues popped up along the way! We submitted our manuscript and a giant file of images back in July of 2019 and the team at Pomegranate produced a beautiful book that makes us proud.

Holding the book is especially sweet because it was a long, long journey to get it into print. First, of course, was the research. When we bought the Meier House in 2013, we immediately dived into researching the American System-Built Home project and gathering the history of our little piece of it. We interviewed former owners, searched through the Wright archives at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, compared notes with other ASBH owners and spent countless hours scrolling through blogs, websites and library records. We shared some of our findings here on the blog over the years but we always had an eye toward collecting the history in a book.

We went on to sign a book contract with Pomegranate in 2018. The time had finally come to sort through all the information we had collected over the years and form it into a manuscript. As we did so, we identified the five chapters of what would become the This American House book:

  • An American Plan: An overview of the American System-Built Homes project and where they sit in Frank Lloyd Wright’s canon of work.
  • A Home in a Prairie Town: The story of Delbert and Grace Meier, the colorful couple who built this American System-Built Home, and their connection to Northeast Iowa.
  • This American House: A snapshot of how the Meiers built a Model M202 in 1917 Iowa.
  • If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the families who called the Meier House their home.
  • The Accidental Archivists: How a couple from Chicago (that’s us!) found their way to a 100-year-old house and what they’re doing to preserve it.

It took us a little over six months to write the manuscript and collect all the images we wanted to include. That meant obtaining images from libraries and other resources, photographing every standing American System-Built Home and working with former owners to find old photos of our house. It also meant finishing a slew of projects at the Meier House so we could get interior and exterior photos that would be included in the book.

When we submitted all the materials in summer of 2019, we were expecting a 2020 book release. Oh but the world had other ideas! As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world, it also put a pause on the publishing industry. The folks at Pomegranate very wisely decided to push back release of our book by a year. We were disappointed (naturally!) but considering what we all endured in 2020, it didn’t seem like something we had any right to complain about.

But now, almost three years after signing the contract, This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meier House and the American System-Built Homes is finally here! Well, almost. The book is scheduled for release on July 15, 2021 … but now we’re experiencing some shipping issues that may cause a slight delay. In the meantime, you can pre-order the book from Amazon or your favorite local bookstore.

We can’t wait for you all to hold This American House in your hands! Stay tuned for book excerpts and behind-the-scenes stories as we excitedly await its release.

American System-Built Home, architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, history

Coming Soon: The This American House Book!

02/14/2021

We’re thrilled to announce the forthcoming release of our book, This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meier House and the American System-Built Homes! Beautifully published by Pomegranate and due out on July 15th, the book provides an historical overview of Wright’s overlooked American System-Built Homes project of the 1910s. Our home, the Meier House, is one of the few existing examples of this early effort of Wright’s to provide affordable but architecturally distinctive housing for the middle class. Our book, This American House, chronicles the storied history of the Meier House and our efforts to steward this early 20th century Prairie style gem into the 21st century.

We look forward to sharing the book with you soon! 

House vs. Home: New book revisits Frank Lloyd Wright’s work through the lives of its inhabitants

This American House follows authors Jason Loper and Michael Schreiber, owners of the Meier House, as they trace its history through previous owners.

PORTLAND, Ore., January 25, 2021 — Pomegranate has published dozens of architecture books throughout its over-50-year history, several featuring Frank Lloyd Wright and his work. Their upcoming release takes a different approach to how we view architecture: how buildings change with the people who live in them and the role homeowners take on in exchange. In This American House, Jason Loper and Michael Schreiber—husbands, authors and current owners of the Meier House—explore that interconnectedness with enthusiasm and empathy.

2020 saw people across the world spending more time in their homes than ever before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families held off going out to eat or on vacation, and many began working and schooling from home. As a result, the way we interacted with our homes on a daily basis changed.

“A living room is no longer just a living room; it’s an office, a classroom and a playground all-in-one,” says Cory Mimms, publisher at Pomegranate. “Many of us used to live parts of our lives at home: the intimate moments of getting ready for school or work, sharing meals, going to bed. Now, we are living every aspect of our identity in the same space, whether that’s spouse or parent, friend or coworker or even activist. Inevitably, that changes the feelings we have about where we live.”

When Loper and Schreiber set out to buy a home several years ago, they certainly didn’t envision one suited to a pandemic, nor did they picture buying one with a pedigree. In fact, they had imagined a cozy getaway cabin not far from their life in Chicago. What they got instead was a big house in a small town and one of the few American System-Built Homes constructed from Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. In doing so, they took on not just a mortgage, but also a long history of stewardship, ushering the house into a new period of time while retaining its original meaning and charm.

Inspired by that history, the two began compiling a record of their experiences, those of the previous residents and the role of the American System-Built Homes within Wright’s oeuvre. Featuring over 120 photographs and architectural drawings, This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meier House and the American System-Built Homes will be available this July.

Pre-order your copy on Amazon or contact your favorite local bookstore to order it!

American System-Built Home, Frank Lloyd Wright, history

American System Built Homes: A Complete List of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Early Prefab Homes

02/10/2021

Burnham Street Two Flats

*This list was updated February 2021. We will continue to add American System-Built Homes to this page as they are discovered and verified.

When most people think of Frank Lloyd Wright they think of his impressive roster of spectacular custom designed homes. But Wright was also an early proponent of design for the masses. While his Usonian homes might be more commonly known, Wright was dabbling in prefab as early as the nineteen-teens. By 1915 Wright had partnered with Milwaukee builder Arthur Richards to create what would come to be known as American System Built Homes. The venture was interrupted by the United States’ entry into World War I (as well as infighting between Richards and Wright) but not before a number of ASB homes were built in the midwest. How many were built? We’re not sure, actually. There are a few ASB homes that have been demolished over the years and some others that are still being discovered.

Continue Reading…

American System-Built Home, Frank Lloyd Wright, original elements

Who Built the Windows in Our American System-Built Home?

12/07/2020
The five windows on the south wall of the living room feature a zinc glass design seen in other American System-Built Homes

The Meier House contains a total of 38 windows, most of which still open and close, although some need a little encouragement from a rubber mallet. We can attribute the excellent condition of these 100-year-old wooden casement windows to the dedicated restoration efforts of Becky and Peter Olafsen. For our part, we have diligently been carrying on the care of the windows by tending to them each spring and fall. We oil the hinges and window stays, and carefully clean the glass twice each season.

Inner storm windows being stained and prepped for re-installation

Although inner “storm” windows and screens were not specified in the original plans for our Model M202 American System-Built Home, not long ago we discovered a few original interior screens in the attic of the new garage. We’ve seen a few variations on such screens in other ASBHs we have visited, although we have been unable to conclude whether a variety of screens was made available depending upon the model of ASBH a homeowner purchased, or if weatherproofing was left to individual owners to determine. Apart from the sun porch windows, newer protective inner glass windows are installed with each of the Meier House’s outer windows, along with a large selection of interior screens with numbered tags or handwritten notations indicating their placement throughout the house. We have not been able to verify which owner built these inner inserts, but given Delbert Meier’s penchant for woodworking, there is a strong possibility that he added some or all of the interior windows himself. In stripping paint from these windows, however, we have discovered that some storm windows and screens are newer than others, leading us to believe that some were rebuilt or replaced by succeeding owners as time and weather deteriorated the originals.

This post is an excerpt from our forthcoming book, This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meier House and the American System-Built Homes, coming from Pomegranate Communications July 2021.

American System-Built Home, architecture, dream house, Frank Lloyd Wright

Giving Thanks: 7 Wonderful Things About Living in an American System-Built Home

12/03/2019

7 Wonderful Things About Living in Our American System-Built Home

This weekend marked our SEVENTH Thanksgiving in our American System-Built Home. As part-time residents dividing our time between the Delbert and Grace Meier House in Iowa and our apartment in the city, we always look forward to this long holiday weekend. It’s one of the few times that we’re able to carve out additional room in our work schedules to allow for a long stay at the house together. One of us has to rush back to the city while the other stays behind to work on house projects, but over the holidays we typically get a few extra days together in the house. And over this particular Thanksgiving holiday, we took some time to reflect on the things about our little piece of Frank Lloyd Wright’s American architectural heritage that give us joy. And so without further ado: Continue Reading…