Back in February when I took a gander at documentary filmmaker Tim Wright’s lovely prefab digs — a nature-embracing Balance model from the modern modular wizards at Blu Homes — in rural southwestern Wisconsin, I failed to mention that Wright’s own grandfather, scandal-prone national treasure Frank Lloyd Wright, had himself dabbled himself in prefabricated home design back in the day.
While many Wright-designed residences, particularly the architect’s middle-class-targeting, proto-ranch-style Usonian homes, were influenced by prefabricated building techniques and featured mass-produced elements, these affordable stick-built abodes, in the end, were strictly prefab in spirit. However in the mid-1950s, Wright did fulfill his prefab dreams through a partnership with Lithuanian-American builder Marshall Erdman. In 1956, he designed a trio of true prefabricated home models — only two of the designs were every realized — dubbed Marshall Erdman Prefab Houses.
Eleven of these Wright-designed prefabs, nine of them being Prefab House #1 models, were built. Some of them were completed posthumously after Wright passed in 1959. And while a sizable number of Marshall Erdman Prefab Houses were commissioned by homeowners in and around Erdhman’s home base of Madison, Wis., a handful of the single-story, Usonian-style structures also made their way to Illinois, Minnesota, and the 'burbs of New York City.
One Marshall Erdman Prefab House # 1 model even made its way to New York City proper: The “Crimson Beech” house in Staten Island’s Lighthouse Hill neighborhood. Built by Erdman as a kit home in Madison and shipped to owners William and Catherine Cass, Crimson Beech is the only Wright-designed residence in New York City and one of only two existing Wright buildings in the entire Big Apple. The other, of course, is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Outside of the five boroughs, you’ll find a Marshall Erdman Prefab House on Long Island and another less than 40 miles north of the city in the sleepy Rockland County hamlet of Blauvelt. And for the first time in history, the latter of the two, the Socrates Zaferiou House, has hit the market with an asking price $795,000.
Although there’s been a stampede of Wright homes, some in better shape than others, hitting the market over the past couple of years, the Socrates Zaferiou House is a double-whammy in the rarity department: Not only are there are less than a dozen homes like it across the country, it’s also one of only a select few Wright homes located within easy commuting distance of New York City (non-prefab Wright homes can be found in Westchester County and Fairfield County, Conn).
Built two years after Wright’s death in 1961 (the listing, however, states 1963) and sporting the all the hallmarks of a classic Usonian home — flat roof, carport, open floor plan, plus-sized fireplace, clerestory windows, loads of glass, etc. — the Socrates Zaferiou House is situated on a woodsy, 2.5-acre mountainside lot perched within Blauvelt State Park. As the listing at Monroe Realty notes (h/t to Curbed), the L-shaped, four-bedroom home is, predictably, in “harmony with the environment.” The abode also appears to be tip-top shape — and stuck in a mid-century time warp — provided that it stayed within the Zaferiou family for all of these years.
Other features of the “timeless” 2,619-square-foot home located at 48 Clausland Mountain Rd. include a “period kitchen,” “full walk-out basement,” “period-style patio and planting areas,” and “rows of glass doors and windows” that “systematically allows the beauty of nature inside the dwelling.” And as Curbed points out, the mural found in the living room of the Socrates Zafteriou House has been replicated at a certain Wright-inspired property located on a private, heart-shaped island in neighboring Putnam County — a property that Angelina Jolie did not buy for her FLW-loving beau, Brad Pitt, as a 50th birthday gift.
Related stories on MNN:
- Frank Lloyd Wright's first solo commission can be yours for a cool $2.4M
- After 74-year wait, Wright-designed Usonian House is complete at Florida Southern
Dismantled Wright residence survives epic road trip to Arkansas