The Enduring American Foursquare

The Enduring American Foursquare

Architectural drawing of the Magnolia, a modern foursquare design by R. John Anderson and David T. Kim. Two stories with hipped roof and three-bay front porch.

We learned something fun today: Frank Lloyd Wright had an interest in affordable design and system-built homes.

Though he's best known for custom masterpieces like Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's work also included smaller homes such as the American System-Built Homes and modest foursquares.

We made this discovery, as often happens, when consulting Wikipedia. The article on the American Foursquare is an interesting read for anyone who likes to know the story behind an architectural style. It sent us off on a hunt for "A Fireproof House for $5,000," which Frank Lloyd Wright published in The Ladies' Home Journal in 1907. In the article, he describes the ideas that motivated every decision he made about the home's design. In his writing, we can see the transition between two ways of life.

No attic, no "butler's pantry," no back stairway have been planned; they would be unnecessarily cumbersome in this scheme, which is trimmed to the last ounce of the superfluous... The open kitchen, with pantry conveniences built into it, is more pleasant and as useful as the complement of kitchen, kitchen pantry and "butler's pantry."

The American Foursquare house type continues to work in traditional neighborhood development (TND) and narrow lot infill, more than a century after it first evolved. R. John Anderson and David T. Kim of Anderson-Kim designed a modern-day foursquare for a neighborhood they developed in Chico, California. That floor plan, the Magnolia, was one of the three most popular designs that they sold.

Though it gets the most attention in the Midwest, Google search traffic suggests that California, Washington, and Texas have a healthy interest in the foursquare style, as well. Ditto for states along the East Coast.

You can build a foursquare home of your own with house plans for the Magnolia by Anderson-KIm. Available only at Liberty House Plans.

Architectural drawing of the Magnolia, a foursquare house plan by Anderson-Kim. Two stories, hipped roof, and three-bay front porch.
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