Sammamish Plateau home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is a piece of history

May 29, 2012

By Sebastian Moraga

 The Brandes House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Sammamish, is built to blend with its natural surroundings in a symbiotic relationship, as are most of the famous architect’s buildings. By Greg Farrar

NOTE: This story has been corrected since its original version. The house’s exteriors may not be altered.

Sometimes, one manages to hide history in plain sight.

Across the street from a row of plain, pale Sammamish condos sits a small, one-story house at the end of a narrow dirt path.

The house is not new, but not old, part California redwood, part Washington cinderblocks, and entirely blessed with the imprint of American genius.

Frank Lloyd Wright, the father of American architecture, designed the house in 1952.

To Jane Powers, handling the 1,900-square-foot house is an honor.

“It’s not like selling a house,” said Powers, a Realtor of high-end homes. “It’s like selling a piece of art, with the added benefit you can live in it.”

The house costs $1.45 million, about $123,000 cheaper than it was the last time it sold, about two years ago.

The house’s lineage probably adds about $400,000 to the price, Powers said, but people wanting to buy the house already know its history.

“It’s a big draw,” she said. “It’s not a very large house so it’s not going to appeal to the same people who want a $1.5 million house for their six kids on the plateau.”

The house is not a mansion. Wright wanted to get the most use out of the least space, so the house has no servant quarters, no separate living or dining rooms. Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows. A slim, steel roof joins the home and a workshop, creating a carport.

Features like its heated floors make the house seem ahead of its time. Still, the house retains an air of simplicity, with original furniture and a flat, overhanging roof.

At first, the house sat on 20 acres of property. Now the property encompasses a little under four acres.

“Wright wanted to make the house blend in with its natural surroundings,” Powers said. “Not the surroundings of what else has been built.”

Wright designed it for the Brandes family in 1952. He told builders how he wanted it. After decades in the same hands, the home sold to a family in California and Asia. After retiring, the new owners returned to Singapore and put the house back on the market.

Wright never came to Washington to see this or the other two houses he designed in the state. One of them, in Normandy Park is also for sale. The third one is in Tacoma.

Powers points to the ailing economy as responsible for the home’s reduced price.

“We’re not impervious,” Powers said. “That’s why it’s priced below what the owners paid for it. Money is always an object.”

The home’s historic quality places limitations on what an owner may do. The furniture stays with the house, and owners may not alter its exteriors. All done to preserve the home’s simple, less-is-more tone.

A tone that remains powerful and infectious, even 60 years later.

Powers said the Wright home has an unusual effect on her.

“It makes me want to simplify,” she said, “but it’s easier said than done.”

Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or Comment at

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3 Responses to “Sammamish Plateau home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is a piece of history”

  1. Janet Halstead on May 30th, 2012 3:34 pm

    This is a beautiful Wright house that deserves a very preservation-minded new owner. I would like to correct one inaccuracy in the article. There is a preservation easement on the Brandes House held by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy which protects the exterior facades. The exterior may not be altered.

  2. Administrator on May 30th, 2012 5:05 pm

    Dear Janet, thank you for catching that. We have checked with Ms. Powers and you’re indeed correct. We have corrected the online version and will issue a correction for the print version.
    Thanks again,
    Sebastian Moraga.

  3. James Mitchell on November 18th, 2015 8:31 pm

    I was privileged to tour the house prior to sale, an exquisite experience. The warmth of this house impressed me the most. One feature that carried this for me was the inclining brick wall in the living room. Did I say “inclining”? Really, it is “out-clining” as the base is farther out than the top. This gives an ingenious sense of being enclosed, protected by the house itself. I so wish I could see it again someday. Inspiring!

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