Remember when you were little, and you wanted to ask someone you didn’t know (like the President) about something, and your parents would tell you to write a letter? It always seemed like you’d never get a response, and yet, sometimes you did. In 1956, 12-year old Jim Berger took just this approach when he wrote to Frank Lloyd Weight asking him to design his black lab, Eddie, a dog house.
To be fair, Berger’s father, Bob, and Frank Lloyd Wright did in fact already know each other — Wright had been hired to design a house for him in San Anselmo, CA four years earlier, in 1952 (a house that, incidentally, would take 20 years to complete). Berger’s letter requested that Eddie’s dog house “be easy to build but would go with our house.”
Wright responded with a short typed letter.He graciously explained that designing such a house would be “an opportunity,” but that the timing wasn’t right. “Someday I may design one, but just now I’m too busy to concentrate on it. You write me next November to Phoenix, Arizona and I may have something then.”
Berger — and this is especially adorable, because kids aren’t always good at follow-through — dutifully complied, writing to him again. This time, Wright sent back “a full set of working drawings for a triangular-shaped dog house of four square feet, to be built of the mahogany and cedar scraps left over from the main house.”
It’s a funny design — triangular and with two openings. It’s certainly not your average doghouse.
And incredibly, after putting in all that effort, little Jim Berger never did build it. I’m not clear on the timeline, but perhaps he lost interest by the time the plans finally arrived? Eventually he joined the army and left home, and his dad and brother completed the project instead. Like many notable structures that have gone unloved and/or unappreciated in their time, Jim’s mom threw it out after her husband Bob died in 1973.
Then again, maybe we can’t blame Jim’s mom entirely. Apparently Eddie didn’t like the house particularly. Instead, “he liked to sleep by the warmth coming out of the front door.”