Photo of house with lights.

Dorothy Turkel House-Detroit

Frank Lloyd Wright 1955

Dorothy Turkel Residence

Detroit, Michigan --- 1955

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

 

America’s most famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed this 4300 sq ft all concrete house in 1955. This house has always been known as the home of Dorothy Turkel, for it was truly hers, a building she loved and championed.

 

Mrs. Turkel wrote a letter to Wright in January of 1954 after reading his book “The Natural House” recounting her vision for a new house in Detroit. The letter ended with a question “will you design such a house”? Within three months she had blueprints in hand.

Norman Silk

248.723.4210

Email: norm@blossomsbirmingham.com

 

Mailing address:

 

2760 West Seven Mile Road

Detroit, Michigan USA 48221

To contact us:

With the Turkel House we come full-circle in Usonian design, Wright considered La Miniatura the first Usonian home. The group of four California block houses were all two or more stories high, but the homes most historian call Usonian are, with rare exceptions single–story dwellings. Thus, this, the only built example of a two–story Usonian house is of special interest. It features a square block, twice the height of the Kalil house, preserving a proper sense of scale for the larger structure. Many different block forms were required, including a special fascia block and a fascia corner block used only for that purpose. The living room which Wright called a music room, is a full two stories in height and has pierced, light-admitting blocks on two sides, each 16 inches or two-thirds the 24-inch grid.

 

Mrs. Turkel’s study, the master bedroom, and four other bedrooms, plus three bathrooms and a balcony fit over the lower level workspace, dining laundry, utility, and playroom plus exterior terrace in what was originally an in-line configuration. Six months into the planning Mrs. Turkel wrote to Wright saying she needed another bedroom. The L shape was added. As built, the L was shortened and made two stories high. The main level was extended into an L with a playroom on the lower level and a boy’s bedroom and maid’s room on the second floor. The use of these two rooms is now a dressing room and master bath suitable for modern living, but true to the Wright style. Robert Pond supervised construction from drawings prepared by John H. Howe. The house took two years to complete and Mrs. Turkel moved in February 1958.

 

Following Dorothy Turkel’s departure in 1978, the house was sold to Loretta Benbow. Mrs. Benbow was responsible for getting local historic designation known as the Turkel-Benbow historic district. Turkel House is also on the State of Michigan Register of Historic Homes. After Mrs. Benbow the house passed into the hands of several owners and fell on hard times, going through long periods of vacancy and years of deferred maintenance.

 

The current owners plan to return the Turkel house to it original 1955 appearance with improvements to mechanical systems allowing for modern living.