The Affleck House was built in 1940 about 2 miles away from the Melvyn Maxwell Smith House. Also like the M.M. Smith house, the Affleck house is owned by a local university (in the case of the Affleck House, the Lawrence Institute of Technology) and according to them is under renovation and not available for tours. I called a few times and talked to a few different people and there wasn’t a way that I could see the interior of the house.
Affleck House from the street above.
Thomas Heinz identifies one of the unique features of this mostly brick Usonian home in his book “The Vision of Frank Lloyd Wright” when he described a pond that is visible only by looking over a wall and straight down. Though Wright often includes “water features” in his homes, this one was quite unique in its implementation.
“Private” side of the house
Much of the “Private” side of the house has been thwarted by the addition of new roads in the neighborhood that connect to the modern town homes that surround the Affleck house. Almost 270 degrees of the house are easily visible from the road. I’m sure this wasn’t the initial design of the home. Only the view from the living room and barely submerged basement remains private. Since those two rooms are the only ones with floor to ceiling windows, privacy and the communion with Nature are preserved.
View from the side of the Affleck House.
The view of the Affleck house shown above displays two features of the Affleck house. First, the standing water on the roof will make a wonderful breeding place for West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes, and second, the opening visible at the lower area of the house displays the cantilevered design of the living room wing. In addition to cantilevered sections of roof, the much of this end of the house that is not situated over the basement is cantilevered. Originally this was designed to have a creek running through this open area to feed the pool discussed above.
The gardens and shrubs behind the bedroom wing.
Storrer describes in his book “The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion” how Mr. Affleck had grown up near Spring Green, Wisconsin and was familiar with Wright’s work. In fact one of his relatives was a secretary for Wright for many years. The design for this home came from Wright’s model of Broadacre City.
Carport and Entry
The carport side of the house gives almost no view into the house and very little indication of where the front door is located.
Wider angle view of the carport
Carport and retaining wall
The above photo shows off the wall that separates the driveway and carport from the woods.
Looking from above the house down to the bedroom wing and carport
Looking down the hill at the garden and bedroom wings.
My faithful correspondent, Victoria Mielke of Sterling Heights, MI, recently toured the Affleck house. In addition to correcting my abysmal spelling, she also has given me some amazing photos of the interior of the home. I can’t thank her enough.
Now to the photos….
Affleck Living Room looking South
Living Room looking North
Photo taken by Detroit-based photographer Balthazar Korab
Close-up of Living room fireplace.
Some of the Wright-designed furniture remains in the home. Gregor and Elizabeth Affleck’s son and daughter have removed most of the original furniture.
Hallway leading to bedrooms
There are 3 bedrooms in the Affleck house….. one master and two smaller ones. There are at least 4 bathrooms in this house… which seems a bit odd for Wright. I’ll have to look at the designs and see what was originally intended for the home.
Smaller bedroom with Wright-designed furniture
Another shot of the Master Bedroom
Wright-designed chair for the vanity table
Vanity table and chair
This vanity is kind of cool. The side mirrors hinge to wrap around and give a side view on the right and left.
The maid’s room looks out to the front of the house.
As with most Wright homes, many built-ins were included in the Affleck house. These drawers were located in the hall near the basement stairs.
“Hallway” to Laundry Room
Mr. Wright seems to have a sense of humor. This hallway stands all of 4 feet tall and there is an 18″ step to get up into it. It isn’t known how the Afflecks or their maid ever got in there to do laundry without crawling. Either they were very short people or they were limbo champions.
Kitchen or as Wright called it, the Workspace.
Victoria liked the groovy 1970s avocado appliances. The cabinets are original 1940’s vintage. Most of the wood work was done with high-grade, experimental plywood.
Living room looking towards entrance loggia
Close-up of a lamp in the living room
This lamp was either designed by Wright or Alden Dow (son of Dow Chemical founder Herbert Henry Dow). Dow was a Wright apprentice for a few years in the early days of the Taliesin Fellowship. Though he never really lived at Taliesin (he and his wife had an apartment in town), he was an active member of the group and was responsible for taking countless movies of Wright and the early apprentices. Dow went on to start his own organic architectural firm in Midland, Michigan, where he was active into the 1970s.
Living room light design
This light included part of the cut-out pattern that Wright used for the Affleck house. Victoria was told that it is a stylized “A” and “F” taken from the family’s last name.
Entrance loggia view
This view looks into the back yard. The floor to ceiling doors, windows and skylights make this an area that really brings nature into the house. There is even a glass door built into the floor that leads down to the reflecting pool. In the summer, the doors could be opened to create an updraft to cool the house. This eliminated the need for air conditioning.