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Melvyn Maxwell and Sara Stein Smith House (1949) Frank Lloyd Wright | by MI SHPO
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Melvyn Maxwell and Sara Stein Smith House (1949) Frank Lloyd Wright

The Melvyn Maxwell and Sara Stein Smith House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946 and constructed in 1949. The home was modified in 1968 with the incorporation of the South Terrace and a new Garden Room. This modification was done through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Spring Green, Wisconsin under the direction of William Wesley Peters, chief architect. The home is a prime example of Mr. Wright's "Usonian" design philosophy.


Melvyn Maxwell Smith first became familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright while taking an art and architecture survey course at Wayne State University in 1939. He was so taken with the work of Wright that he vowed that some day he would own a Frank Lloyd Wright home.


The home is an unassuming one story home characterizing many of Frank Lloyd Wright's design characteristics, including strong horizontal cantilever roof planes, ingenious building techniques, free flowing interior spaces exploding to the outdoors, as well as an "organic" relationship to the site.


The home is basically "L" shaped in plan with its major living areas oriented to the south-southwest, and is situated in such a manner as to provide privacy from the street while allowing the living areas to experience the openness and true beauty of the site.


The basic construction is made up of load bearing solid brick walls, sandwich walls made up of a 3/4" plywood core covered with cypress boards and reverse battens, plate glass and a radiant heat colored concrete floor.


The interior space has flowing, open living and dining areas with a private bedroom wing and small study on the east portion of the plan. The "work space" (kitchen) and fireplace brick mass anchor the entire plan.


For more information on the Smith House, or Michigan's other Modernist works, visit

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Taken on September 23, 2009