Usually this space is devoted to homes you can buy. There are a lot of nice things about buying a home, but the process is very constrained, requires a lot of money and commitment, the interesting ones tend to be pretty expensive and often very finicky, and you only do it a handful of times at most, unless you’re Ken Griffin.
Which from a certain perspective is kind of boring. Even if you buy a Frank Lloyd Wright house, those are the Frank Lloyd Wright walls you’re going to be looking at for the next few decades (and you better not go changing them). Fortunately, you can rent some pretty great places from the likes of Bruce Goff, Earl Young, FLW himself, or even this Walter Netsch cabin that didn’t make the cut below. (Prices and availability may vary.)
Bruce Goff isn’t exactly an unknown, but he’s terribly underrated in the annals of great Chicago architects. He obviously had tremendous command of the midcentury modern style, as you can see from the interiors of this house, but as you can see from the exterior, he was adventurous, experimental, and just… fun. This is even conservative by Goff standards—check out the Sam and Ruth Sickle Ford House in Aurora, the 1948(!) Bachman House in Chicago, the Donald Pollock House in Oklahoma City, or his castle downstate. But what is there to do in Bartlesville? For starters, you can also stay in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower, where Goff housed his studio from 1956 to 1963, and drive around to see Goff’s many Oklahoma houses.
Earl Young is another fun, undersung Midwestern architect… although he technically wasn’t an architect. The northern Michigan native went to the University of Michigan for architecture school, decided he didn’t like what he was being taught, and set out on his own in his hometown of Charlevoix. Without technical training, Young worked “entirely out of his own head as he went along,” assembling stones and boulders like Lincoln Logs. Young’s stonework is the highlight of this house, the last he lived in, but other details like a woven ceiling mark his singular style. While in Charlevoix, be sure to grab dinner at the Young-designed Stafford’s Weathervane, which features a glacial boulder fireplace with a nine-ton keystone and a meteorite. Don’t like this Young house? Others of his design are for rent in Charlevoix.
Samuel and Dorothy Eppstein were employees of the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, who got together with some pals at the company to design a subdivision, as pals do, and hired Frank Lloyd Wright to do it. The result was The Acres, a community on the National Register of Historic Places which features four Wright houses, including the Eppstein’s, which has been recently restored. It was a nontrivial task: the concrete-like blocks are actually textile, which required a special UV coating specific to Wright’s Usonian textile blocks.
For a Frank Lloyd Wright staycation, you can opt for the Emil Bach House in Rogers Park. Or do both, and compare and contrast: the Bach House is an earlier work, and much more urban. As the Chicago Architecture Center points out, it’s compact, cubic, and massed to fit its small city lot, instead of low and long like as is typically associated with the Prairie Style. The result is a different, more intimate relationship to its surroundings, while retaining the light and openness Wright’s work is known for.
John Randal McDonald, as a Wisconsinite designing horizontal, open modernist houses in the Racine and Milwaukee areas, called himself “the poor man’s Frank Lloyd Wright.” But as the Wisconsin Historical Society describes him, perhaps the truth is that he actually managed to “accomplished what Wright said he was doing–designing residences for the middle class.” It definitely seemed to work, as this wonderfully ’50s Milwaukee house—part Prairie, part Miesian box—was on the market for $116,000 in 2017. Not that he couldn’t get fancy, as with his Turner Residence in Quincy, Florida, an ability that got him commissions from Perry Como and James Garner. This suburban Milwaukee home is solidly in his middle-class aesthetic, and reasonably priced to match.
Correction: This article previously included photos of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Schwartz House, mislabeled as pictures of his Eppstein House. The Schwartz House is located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, is also available for rent, and is also extremely attractive.