Rear of the Pappas house overlooking 3.36 acres

Imagine having the chutzpah to write to Frank Lloyd Wright asking him to design your home on a tight budget. Imaging enclosing a $300 retainer, assuming assent.

That’s what Ted and Bette Pappas did in 1954 … and then waited for a reply that didn’t come. But Wright had cashed the check so they poured-on the courage and called. A clerical error was claimed. The Pappas original letter stated the potential of purchasing a three-quarter-acre lot for $2,000-$3,000 and another $19,000-$20,000 to build a home “of either six or seven rooms.”

In the end, the home sits on 3.36 acres and contains 2,310 square feet. There are four bedrooms and two full bathrooms along with living, dining and family rooms. At the end it cost nearly four times their original budget and took a decade to realize. In fact, actual construction didn’t begin until 1960, a year after Wright died, and took four years.


WrightIt’s not uncommon to find a midcentury modern, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home that embraces nature — after all, that was pretty much Wright’s forte. And this week’s historical shelter definitely embraces that yen for nature the famous architect’s work inspires.

And even better, it belongs to a reader. Pat Wood wrote us this month to tell us about her home — Kittatinny Manor, located along Eastern Pennsylvania’s Kittatinny Ridge, which is part of the Appalachian mountain range.

“Our home is a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced, environmental, and eco-friendly poured concrete home on 15 wooded Clean and Green acres,” Wood said. “This is a nature lover’s paradise or for someone looking for some seclusion.”


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Coonley House: Second Floor Living Room (Main House)

Exploring the history of a 100-year-old house is interesting. Exploring the history of a 105-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright structure leaves “interesting” in the rearview mirror. To begin, Avery Coonley and Queene Ferry-Coonley were both heirs to fortunes, but it was Mrs. Coonley who purchased the 10-acre parcel in Riverside, Illinois, and engaged Wright as architect. Mr. Coonley was said to have been interested in a Georgian-Colonial house. That the estate is called the Avery Coonley House, instead of the Queene Coonley House, reflects the woman’s subordinate role of the era.

The house is actually an estate comprising several buildings totaling over 9,000 square feet. Flashing forward for a second, it’s important to understand that in 1952 the property was in the crosshairs of developer Arnold Skow who wanted to demolish the property and put up 14 ranch homes. A deal was reached to split the main residence in half with a firewall and sell off the gardener’s cottage, stable and playhouse as separate residences. Compared to Wright’s brilliance, the resulting ranch homes have all the majesty of a Taco Bell next to Versailles (one is currently for sale).

Two of Wright’s original compound are currently on the market.


[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2018! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at and!]

I grew up around Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, so when I saw one of his homes on the market near my old stomping grounds, I had to share it with you.  It’s a type of architecture not often found in Dallas (one house and the Kalita Humphreys theater are all I know of) where prairie style means something completely different.

Often when I write about second homes, I’m writing about areas to consider. This time I’m dictating exactly which second home you must purchase.  I’m doing this because it’s one thing to impress your friends by owning a second home, but it’s a complete mic drop to add that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-style home.



The Penfield House was designed by the venerated Frank Lloyd Wright, and was one of his last designs before his death in 1959.

Frank Lloyd Wright aficionados who are looking for some income property can hit the jackpot with the Penfield Home, located in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, and situated on the Chagrin River.

The three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home was commissioned by Louis and Pauline Penfield in 1952, the Penfield family said on a website used to showcase the home and its rental availability. (more…)

Often when I write about second homes, I’m writing about areas to consider. This time I’m dictating exactly which second home you must purchase.  I’m doing this because it’s one thing to impress your friends by owning a second home, but it’s a complete mic drop to add that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright prairie style home.

Known as the F.B. Henderson home, this property is situated on roughly one-half acre in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst at 301 S. Kenilworth Avenue. It was built in 1901 during Wright’s brief partnership with Henry Webster Tomlinson and is almost a mirror to Wright’s Hickox house in Kankakee, Illinois.  I like this one better because it’s much closer to Chicago. The home has 5,500 square feet with six bedrooms and four bathrooms. It’s been on and off the market for a couple of years (with a rental period in the middle) and is currently listed with Marilyn Fisher with L.W. Realty for $1.1 million, though she’s quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, “The price may come down.”


504 Spiller Front

If we were to stare into Maleficent’s mirror and ask it to tell us “What home in Austin is the coolest of all?” it would make up some weird rhyme to tell us all about this absolutely rad structure in Westlake Hills. Designed by architect John Watson, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, the “Grotto Dome” house might be the coolest house in all of Central Texas. And you can quote me on that.

504 Spiller Pond

504 Spiller Deck

It’s an escape in the city, a home tucked into a ravine with a narrow little creek that runs beneath it. Jump to see more photos of what could be either an amazing second home, a vacation home, or a primary residence that’s cool enough to feel like a vacation. We don’t care what you call it, really, as long as you invite us over to sip cocktails and play pool by the pool in the grotto.


I am not going to tell you how much this home at 9100 Guernsey is listed for — because my lawyer has not yet drafted any releases to cover reader heart attacks. (Well, I guess you can always look it up.) This masterpiece is about as close to owning a Frank Lloyd Wright design in Dallas that you can get without actually BUYING the Frank Lloyd Wright home a few streets over on Rockbrook, which is owned by Michael and Elysiann Bishop and $10 million. It was designed by Wright’s protege John Rattenbury, who designed Life Magazine’s House of the Year in 1997. Rattenbury, of course, studied under Wright at Taliesen West, and was Wright’s apprentice and senior architect. But here’s the beauty of this home: it was built in 1992. The Bishop’s home was built in 1954 and as gorgeous as it is, honestly, there are always headaches associated with a home that age. I mean, that’s almost as old as I am and I certainly create MANY headaches.

So you get this exquisite, pure Wright sensibility right down to the stainless steel counters in the kitchen. But you still get new — the soaking, marble-surround tub in the master, the flowing floorplan, all immediately from the front door entryway with large planter box and skylights. The living room has floor-to-ceiling glass viewing the wooded grounds. The kitchen is decked like nothing Wright could have imagined, with Gaggenau and Sub-Zero appliances, and is open to the living room and dining room. Of course you view the graceful pool and grounds from every window. The master has a raised ceiling, sliding-glass doors that open to a terrace, a fireplace, a wet bar and built-in cabinetry. The master bath is very updated, opens to a private courtyard. You get a study with walls of bookshelves, a fireplace and more glass. In true mid-century fashion, three secondary bedrooms offer generous natural light and ample built-ins. What I particularly like about this house is the size — just right by 2011 standards: 4121 square feet is perfect, located on 1.1 acres on a wooded, thickly treed cul de sac skirting the estate area of Bluffview.

So all that — architecturally significant, beautifully maintained (full disclosure, I know the owners and they are as OCD as they come) and stunning. The interiors are by Rattenbury’s wife, Kay, who lived and studies with the Wrights since she was 14. Land. Trees. Water. This home was originally listed for $1.9 back in January but has been reduced to — $1,499,000.

Anyone want to buy my house? Because this is a deal.


I just had a thought: what would Frank Lloyd Wright been like on Twitter?