San Rafael, CA – Eddie’s House, the only doghouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is being placed on public display for the first time starting June 8 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the architect’s birth.
Jim Berger with the doghouse he donated to the County of Marin in May 2016.
The County of Marin, and more specifically the Department of Cultural Services, the Marin County Free Library and the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy, are celebrating the sesquicentennial in style. The doghouse will be available for public viewing from June 8 through September 8 at the Civic Center Library branch, at 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. Also, three docent-led tours of the Civic Center will be only $1.50 per person on June 8 and will include a visit to the doghouse.
Eddie’s House has been in storage since it was donated by Jim Berger, who, when he was 12 years old in the late 1950s, wrote to Wright to request that the master designer draw plans for a doghouse. At the time, Berger lived with his parents in San Anselmo while his father worked to build a full-scale home designed by Wright. The original doghouse was eventually discarded, but Berger – a retired cabinet maker living in the Sacramento area – received permission from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in 2011 to build a replica doghouse from the original Wright sketches. Berger donated the replica to the County in May 2016.
Berger said he’s happy that Eddie’s House will have visitors.
“That’s why I gave it to Marin, to be on display,” he said. “The doghouse belongs in San Rafael and with the people of Marin County. It’s going to be there for people to enjoy for decades to come, and I’m very pleased about that.”
Librarian Laurie Thompson of Civic Center’s Anne T. Kent California Room archives, worked with Berger to coordinate the doghouse donation to the County.
“Young Jim felt his black lab Eddie had too much class to live in an ordinary doghouse; only Frank Lloyd Wright would do,” Thompson said. “Wright was clearly touched by Berger’s initiative and eventually sent him a full set of drawings for a small triangular doghouse. The handsome doghouse is sure to inspire young and old alike while on display at the Civic Center Library.”
Widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century, Wright expressed organic architecture by integrating buildings with the natural world, melding form with space to create spatial drama. Inspired by nature and technology and seeking an alternative to European models, Wright used materials and structural forms in often new and innovative ways that relate to the geographically diverse United States.
“The Marin County Civic Center is the largest existing Frank Lloyd Wright building, so with the doghouse both the largest and smallest Wright buildings are going to be here in Marin for the public to see at the same time,” Calicchio said.
With its construction initiated in 1960, the Marin County Civic Center is one of the last major works of Wright’s career and his only realized project for a government entity. An innovative design that simultaneously houses in one structure all of the functions of county government and serves as a focal point for civic and cultural engagement, it dramatically illustrates the kinship of architecture to the surrounding landscape with long horizontal buildings that gracefully link the crowns of three hills. The Civic Center is both a state and National Historic Landmark, designated in 1991.
On June 8, the docent-led Civic Center tours will start at 10:30 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. and leave from the Civic Center Café (Suite 237). The $1.50 (plus $2 service fee) tickets are available online or by calling 415-473-3762. Can’t make it that day? Docent-led tours take place Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. year-round (except on holidays) and on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Tickets are available at tickets.marincenter.org/.
Following the special debut, the doghouse can be seen through September 8 at the library during its regular hours. It is open at 10 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and closing times vary; see the schedule online.
Watch the County’s video about the doghouse.