The Berger House in San Anselmo was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Robert and Gloria Berger. In the early 1950s, mechanical engineer, Robert Berger, then a teacher at the College of Marin, decided to build a family home. He did not like the conventional “boxy” plans of the period and wrote to Wright asking him to design a home which was expandable, inexpensive and easy for one person to build. Wright wrote back requesting photographs and a topographical map of the site.
The Korean War interrupted Berger’s plans but he had the opportunity to meet Wright in Wisconsin after a stint with the Army on the East Coast. Berger told Wright he could afford no more than $1500 for the architectural fee and a maximum of $15,000 for the home’s construction. Wright agreed to these terms and in January of 1953, sent Berger the preliminary drawings.
Construction began the following April under the guidance of Wright’s San Francisco Associate, Aaron Green. By 1957 the core living area was complete and the couple and their four children moved in. Two years later, the bedroom wing was finished. Throughout this period, Berger did most of the work himself. The final details took much longer, particularly after Berger fell ill in 1969. When he died in 1973, Gloria Berger hired a professional carpenter to finish the job, including the construction of the Wright-designed furniture.
The house is built of stone, glass, wood and concrete, complementing the colors and shapes of the surrounding landscape and exemplifying Wright’s concept of organic architecture. The windows frame views of the Fairfax and San Anselmo hills and a triangular deck juts off the main living area.