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A prairie house for puppies: Frank Lloyd Wright's doghouse

February 22, 2012 |  7:36 am

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If Snoopy had a doghouse like the one Frank Lloyd Wright designed for a black Labrador named Eddie, would he still have slept on the roof?

Maybe so, according to the Marin Independent Journal. It turns out Eddie, whose 12-year-old master, Jim Berger, beseeched the great architect to dream up a doghouse for his canine friend in 1956, never slept in his illustrious digs.

Looking at a picture of the original doghouse, constructed in 1963, you can imagine why the dog wouldn't sleep in it. All imposing geometry, Wright's pooch palace is small and sharp-angled. Maybe Wright should have made it look more like a hamburger?

Doghouse_floorplanWhen he first got a letter from Berger, whose father was working on a Wright-designed home in Marin County, Wright responded that the commission (of sorts) would be an "opportunity," but he didn't have time to focus on it. Berger asked again the next year and received Wright's specifications for a dog hovel to be constructed out of scraps of Philippine mahogany and cedar.

After being taken to the dump in 1970 by Berger's disillusioned mother, the doghouse has experienced a second life. Filmmaker Michael Miner, director of a series of Frank Lloyd Wright documentaries, asked Berger, now 68 and a retired workshop teacher, if he'd be willing to reconstruct it for his latest film focusing on Wright's work in California, "Romanza."

Last fall the doghouse was reborn  and has been touring the country ever since. Next stop: the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Ill., a state with many Wright creations.

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-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Top, Jim Berger with the doghouse he built from Wright's plans. Lower, Wright's floorplan for the doghouse. Credit: Top, Alisse Berger Gratehouse; lower, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

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