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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block

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Learn about the largest concentration of Wright homes on a single block.

The Burnham Block is a collection of six Frank Lloyd Wright designed; American System-Built Homes built in 1916. The homes are part of a series of homes meant to be mass-produced. The Burnham Block is on the National and Wisconsin Register of Historic Places and is a Historic District in the City of Milwaukee.

In a 1901 speech entitled, “The Art and Craft of the Machine,” Wright outlined his vision of affordable housing. He asserted that the home would have to go to the factory, instead of the skilled labor coming to the building site. Between 1915 and 1917 Wright designed a series of standardized “system-built” homes, known today as the American System-Built Homes. By system-built, he did not mean pre-fabrication off-site, but rather a system that involved cutting the lumber and other materials in a mill or factory, then bringing them to the site for assembly. This system would save material waste and a substantial fraction of the wages paid to skilled tradesmen. Wright produced more than 900 working drawings and sketches of various designs for the system. Six examples were constructed, still standing, on West Burnham Street and Layton Boulevard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Other examples were constructed on scattered sites throughout the Midwest with a few yet to be discovered.

The Model B1 at 2714 West Burnham is open for public, group and private tours. Tours are led by trained docents. Guests have travelled from every state and more than 34 countries to visit. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Burnham Block tours, and events have been suspended and will re-open when it’s safe.

Wright in Milwaukee depends on tour revenue and is currently experiencing an operating loss that is also impacting restoration efforts. Please consider becoming a Friend of The Burnham Block or help by making a donation on the website. Thank you!

Take a deep dive into the Burnham Block here 

The six homes on the Burnham Block are visible from the street. Most are occupied by tenants – please respect their privacy.

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