Frank Lloyd Wright and Marshall Erdman
reviewing model at the Van Tamelen House
Of the three modular house designs that Wright did for the Marshall Erdman Company, only two were actually constructed; this is the first of them. The basic plan would be standard "in-line ranch" except for the placement of the workspace/kitchen was not at the juncture of living and bedroom wings, but on opposite side of the living room and away from that "quiet bedroom spaces." The living room is three steps lower than the bedroom wing.
The house is drawn to a 32-inch-square unit module, or to fit two 16-inch textile/concrete blocks. The vertical unit is half the horizontal unit, or 16 inches, revealing the modular Usonian origins. It has a masonry core, with painted exterior panel siding of textured Masonite board (5/16-inch thick, 4-by-16-foot Masonite Ridgeline siding) on 2-by-4-inch studs, decorated with horizontal battens on 16-inch centers. The interior walls are finished with Philippine white mahogany panels with matching battens. Forced air heating, which could accommodate air conditioning, replaced the gravity heating common to Usonian designs. The use of standard Pella doors and awning windows was a cost-saving feature.
The Van Tamelen house was built, at rather high cost, to serve as the Erdman model. The original plans and model that were displayed at the American Home Builders Convention included an exposed and finished lower level. A photo of Mr. Wright and Mr. Erdman in front of that model is hanging in the Van Tamelen house.
Wright's architectural fee, per house, was $750.
Original Van Tamelen House Perspective (early 1956) © 1988 FLWright Fdn.
Original Van Tamelen House Floor Plan (August 1956) © 1988 FLWright Fdn.
Current Van Tamelen House Floor Plan