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Eugene Van Tamelen House, Erdman Prefab I

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1956, Frank Lloyd Wright and Marshall Erdman. 5817 Anchorage Ave.
  • (Photograph by Mark Fay, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

The Van Tamelen House, Wright’s first prefab building for Erdman’s company, attracted the attention of the New York Times (December 21, 1956) and House and Home (December 1956), bringing orders for nine more. Here, he used horizontal boards and battens made of Masonite and redwood. Ribbon and corner awning windows pivot outward to light the interior.

Erdman’s factory prefabricated the exterior and interior wall panels in eight-foot sections and manufactured precut floors, roof trusses, cabinets, and woodwork. Excluded from the package were the materials needed for the foundation, fireplace, and mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems. In the end, the high cost of the site work, which included the installation of windows, wood trim, and interior walls, along with the cost of the prefab package, $20,000, and Wright’s substantial design fee, brought the total expense close to that of a normal custom-built home, thus limiting the popularity of the Erdman houses.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Eugene Van Tamelen House, Erdman Prefab I", [Madison, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 463-463.

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