MILWAUKEE — A Frank Lloyd Wright house has been put on the market in Milwaukee.
Jillayne Arena and her husband, Dave, bought the house, built in around 1916, about 30 years ago as a duplex. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars making it a one-family home and preserving it after it had been a rental property, Jillayne Arena said. This year, they spent $36,000 fixing the foundation and making other repairs, she said. The three-bedroom house is listed at just under $200,000.
Arena said she and her husband priced the house low because of the market and location. The house is one in a row of six similar houses on Milwaukee's south side known as the American System-Built Homes, which Wright designed as part of his drive to provide affordable housing. The homes were produced from factory-cut materials assembled onsite.
"Not only do you get a Frank Lloyd Wright house, but you get to look out at Frank Lloyd Wright houses, which is truly a remarkable experience as well," Arena said.
The couple doesn't expect to get their money back, she said, but they hope someone else enjoys the house as much as they have.
"It's been a process of letting go and detachment, and that's difficult," said Arena, who moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, because her husband took a new job. "But it's part of our own life experience: to reevaluate where we are in our lives. So this has been a great experience, but it was time to move on."
Listing agent Jack Smith with Shorewest said it's too early to predict demand.
Mike Lilek, curator for three of the houses on the block, which is owned by Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, said it's not rare for Wright houses to go on the market; there are an estimated 400 of them in the nation. But they are coveted, he said.
"They come on the market from time to time because people's lives change," he said.
Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin has restored one of the single-family homes on the block and opened it as a museum, he said. The group will start restoring one of the duplexes next year, and has plans to restore another.
It has no plans to buy the Arena house, Lilek said, because it already has a similar one. Also, the group wants the row of houses to be lived in. It was important to Wright to have people live in architect-designed homes, Lilek said.