A.D. German Warehouse – Richland Center, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

A.D. German Warehouse

Richland Center, Wisconsin

The only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structure in the architect's hometown. 


The only building Frank Lloyd Wright designed in his hometown of Richland Center, Wisconsin, was built because the now-famous architect owed a man money.

The man was wholesale grocer Albert Dell German, and the building was a four-story warehouse designed for German by Wright to make good on unpaid bills. The design, which seems to fit the Mayan style Wright would use often in later buildings, includes an ornamented concrete frieze on the top and narrow vertical slits running up the brick façade.

The poured concrete building, an early example of this method, was built over a layer of cork, which would absorb shock and help keep it stable. Each floor is a concrete slab held up by concrete columns that get smaller on the upper floors.

Construction started in 1917 and was halted, unfinished, in 1921, after the cost of the structure more than quadrupled. German was still able to use it to store sugar, flour, coffee, tobacco and other things until 1927, but he eventually lost the building.

Double brick walls helped create a naturally refrigerated storage environment, but since the 1970s the building has mostly been used to display Wright-related exhibits. The first floor includes a gift shop and small theatre.

In addition to being the only building Wright designed in his hometown, it is also the only commercial building of his from this period that remains standing.

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Open to the public on Sundays, May through October, 10 am - 2 pm, other times by appointment.

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