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Usonia, New York

FEATURE STORIES, ILLUSTRATED WITH

early houses, appeared in Architectural Forum, House and

THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT SITE PLAN

well as other local and national papers. The returns from a

AND PHOTOS OF EARLY HOUSES,

Hardly the most prominent, but the most remem-

Garden, the New York Times, and the Herald Tribune as clipping service soon filled a scrapbook.

APPEARED IN ARCHITECTURAL FORUM,

bered story was an article in the newspaper PM on April

HOUSE AND GARDEN, THE NEW YORK

paper aimed at a more serious reader than the popular

TIMES, AND THE HERALD TRIBUNE.

a number of meetings with applicants, several of whom

, . PM was a liberal-leaning New York afternoon tabloids. The article resulted in five hundred inquiries and became members of Usonia.

dentist, and his wife Charlotte; and Irwin Auerbach, an auditor, and his wife Ottalie.

THE CHUCKROW REPORT

Efforts to attract new members continued and

Even as new members were recruited and new houses

several joined, but between  and , Roland Reisley,

were planned, cost overruns became a serious issue. Late

the author of this book and then a physicist, and his wife

in , Usonia’s builder, Robert Chuckrow, submitted a

Ronny, a psychologist, were the only permanent new

comprehensive report regarding building progress to that

members.

point and suggested future improvements. Chuckrow had hoped to build the first ten to fifteen houses as a group to

SEEKING NEW MEMBERS

achieve some economy of scale. But he found this was not

While the board focused on building and seeking finance

to be. He had to deal with the Design Panel, the architects,

during  and , other members selected and worked

the intensely concerned owners, and activist board and

with their architects, and everyone was concerned with the

committee members. All had forged enthusiastically into

need to enroll additional members. Visitors to the land

unknown territory.

were almost always invited to explore membership. Press releases added to the considerable media attention.

Chuckrow noted that during this period “many troubles” had been endured and overcome. The cost of

Publicity for Usonia was greatly enhanced when,

materials, especially masonry materials, steel and rough

in January , Edward Serlin became a member. Serlin

hardware, plumbing, and heating supplies had increased

was the director of publicity for Radio City Music Hall

since inception, while the cost of lumber had decreased.

and promptly assumed that task for Usonia as well. Soon

Chuckrow called supervision a “confusing” mat-

stories about Usonia began appearing in newspapers and

ter probably not “understood by all parties.” He especially

magazines all over the country. Feature stories, illustrated

pleaded with architects to spend more time “preparing

with the Frank Lloyd Wright site plan and photos of

complete and accurate drawings.” All of the first five houses THE NEW YORK TIMES DESCRIBED UNUSUAL FEATURES, INCLUDING RADIANT HEATING, OF USONIAN HOMES NEARING COMPLETION.

NEW YORK TIMES

Usonia, New York - Building a Community with Frank Lloyd Wright  

Usonia, New York is the story of a group of idealistic men and women who, following WWII, enlisted Frank Lloyd Wright to design and help the...

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