Story and photos (c) Mark Hertzberg
The 2100 block of Newton Avenue in Shorewood, Wis., will no longer be a quiet street, as word spreads of the documentation there of a previously unidentified house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The home at 2106 Newton may not look like a Wright home at first glance, but underneath the modern siding, and above the garage which was added in 1976, is one of Wright’s stucco American System-Built homes.
Many people think Wright designed homes only for wealthy clients, but he was keenly interested in affordable housing for the middle class. The American System-Built homes, designed as affordable housing, could be selected from a myriad of designs. The entrance to the house is on the right side (as one faces the house). The original open porch at the entrance was enclosed at an unknown date. It still has the original stucco finish and the leaded glass windows which apparently were the front windows of the house.
The Newton Avenue house, built in 1917, joins six homes in the 2700 block of W. Burnham St. (two single-family homes and four duplexes) as examples of Wright’s American System-Built homes in the Milwaukee area. The two-bedroom Shorewood house is a Model A203. Four other Milwaukee American System-Built duplexes, the Arthur R. Munkwitz Duplex Apartments, were demolished in 1973 to widen a street.
The first person to tell owners Roger and Pat Wisialowski that they may be living in a Wright home was the late Richard Johnson of Evanston, Illinois. Johnson had a passion for searching for previously unknown Wright works. However, none of the ones he believed Wright designed were documented and authenticated as Wright’s, until Mike Lilek researched the little house on Newton Avenue over the last year and found proof that it is, indeed, a Wright home. Lilek is nationally recognized as an expert on the subject of Wright’s American System-Built homes.
Lilek, left, is interviewed by Jeff Rummage of the “Shorewood Now news site.
He has spearheaded the restoration of two of the Burnham Street houses for Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin. He extensively researched the Newton Avenue house and has presented his findings to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the organization which oversees all things Wright and was the former home of Wright’s archive. He announced his findings June 5, 2015 at a press event in front of the house. He has been transparent about his research, and has posted a link to it:
Link toMary Louise Schumacher’s feature story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: