Imitation or influence? Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Bogk House’ and its Milwaukee lookalikes

Imitation or influence? Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Bogk House’ and its Milwaukee lookalikes

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Frank Lloyd Wright is widely regarded as Wisconsin’s most famous architect and for good reason — his iconic style is seen all over the world and has heavily influenced a generation of architects after him.

You can see the impact he has made on other architects firsthand here in Milwaukee — many lookalike homes popped up over the years resembling Wright’s style — so much so that it’s got us wondering if it’s imitation or influence.

The Bogk House. Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee.com

This week on the Urban Spelunking podcast, OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo and I are discussing Wright’s famous 1916 Bogk house, 2420 N. Terrace Ave., on the East Side and the so-called “Baby-Bogks” built after it. The original home was built for politician and businessman Frederick Bogk and represents a later period in Wright’s career when he was exploring darker and heavier themes in his designs.

The “Baby Bogks,” however, were “designed by Wright’s one-time right-hand man Russell Barr Williamson,” writes Tanzilo. “The Nathan Stein House, at 3965 Harcourt Pl., Shorewood, built in 1921, is just one of a number of Williamson homes in the Milwaukee area – including one he built for himself on Oakland Avenue.”

Williamson took the opposite approach to Wright; he made his designs more accessible and affordable. He even advertised the lower cost in local newspapers at the time.

A “Baby Bogk” house, known as the Stein House in Shorewood. Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee.com
Another lookalike on the East Side: Bours house at 2430 E. Newberry Blvd. Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee.com.

On this week’s podcast, we go deeper into the story and the homes. And we weigh in on whether or not the designs are imitations. Listen below, and visit OnMilwaukee for more photos and history.

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