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Images of city’s only Frank Lloyd Wright home to be auctioned June 5

This "Usonian" house at 3901 N. Washington Road was built in 1952. (News-Sentinel.com file photo by Kevin Leininger)
The fireplace in the living room area of the Frank Lloyd Wright house. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
One of two sketches of the home that were signed by Wright and will be auctioned June 5. (Courtesy image)

The only house in Fort Wayne designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright will soon be on the market.

Not the house itself, which has an assessed value of about $113,000, but two drawings of it signed and dated by Wright himself. And they won’t cost nearly as much.

The web site Wright20.com will hold an online auction June 5 featuring “Important Design including Post War + Contemporary Art,” and two of the items are Wright exterior sketches of his “Usonian” home built in 1952 at 3901 N. Washington Road. The items are from the collection of Roy K. Varenhorst, a former Wright apprentice, and have values estimated at between $3,000 and $5,000 for one and between $5,000 and $7,000 for the other.

John Shoaff, an architect and former City Council member who lived in the house for 27 years, has called the 1,340-square-foot structure a sterling example of the 180 modest single-story “Usonian” homes Wright (1867-1959) designed late in his career.

Despite the house’s unquestioned historic status — or, rather, because of that status — it has generated a bit of controversy in recent years. After owner Richard Herber bought the house in 2004, it became a local historic district in 2008, although Herber has said he never approved of the designation. Exterior changes to properties in such districts must be approved by the city, and in 2010 Herber unsuccessfully sought to have the status revoked.

He tried again in 2016, insisting the regulations would make the house more difficult to sell and complicate modifications he said were needed to accommodate a disability. City Council again refused to do so, and later that year closed a loophole in a 2013 state law that appeared to allow cities to remove properties from local historic districts.

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