The Usonia Fire: An Update

I had a suspicion when I blogged yesterday afternoon about the fire in the Usonia community of Mount Pleasant, New York, that the house that had burned down was not designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and today's newspaper account indeed seems to be backing down from its original reporting, although it's still not completely clear (the headline and caption say Wright-designed house but the story itself says a house burned down in the "neighborhood designed ... by Frank Lloyd Wright.")

Not that it makes the fire any less of a tragedy for the family that lost its home, or even for architecture aficionados, but the house that burned down seems to be one of the many designed by a Wright disciple rather than by Wright himself.

There were 47 houses built in Usonia, three designed by Wright and the others designed by other architects (here's what Wikipedia says). Wright also designed the layout of the community, which was conceived after World War II by a group of friends who believed in the principles of modernism espoused by Wright.

In the years since it has matured into a quiet, discreet, wooded neighborhood of houses whose value has risen significantly and which beautifully retains its original Wrightian (if I can use that word) qualities. I've never been in one of the Usonia houses and I haven't driven through the neighborhood in years, so I can't say I know it well at all. But my sense is that it has managed to retain its integrity without turning into a museum. It's a living neighborhood. I feel bad for the people who lost their house.

If you Google "Usonia + Pleasantville" and then click "images," you can see what some of the Usonia houses look like - ta

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