Tour the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House


Simply known by locals as the Jacobs’, this single-family home is nestled in Madison and was designed by the famed Frank Lloyd Wright in 1937. Considered the first Usonian home, it was commissioned by Herbert Jacobs, a local newspaperman and an acquaintance of Wright. He told Wright it wasn’t possible to create and build a home for just $5,000 (about $82,442 in current dollars), and Wright took the challenge.

The result? An L-shaped home with an open floor plan (unique for its day) featuring two bedrooms. In order to save on costs, Wright came up with 2 ¼-inch plywood for the walls, which had never been used before. It’s also rumored that he used reclaimed bricks from the nearby Johnson Wax Building. In the end, the total cost was $5,500.

An Architectural Gem

The Jacobs enjoyed the house, but quickly found it was too small for their growing family. Jacobs asked Wright to design and build another home, dubbed “Jacobs II,” and the family moved in during the 1940s.

The original house has been owned by various people, many of whom have made renovations and updates. One restoration in 1983 took the house back to its original appearance, while updating all worn out systems. The house is now open for tours or month-to-month renters and is part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin Heritage Tourism Program.