Tiny, brown house was work of a ‘brilliant’ mind

April 20, 2017
Evansville Courier & Press

From the outside, it’s nearly impossible to imagine six people – four kids, two adults – and a dog lived together in the tiny, brown house.

But it didn’t seem quite as small once inside surrounded by natural light from the numerous windows.

More than 100 people crowded around the 552-square foot house, designed and built by William Wesley “Wes” Peters, Thursday morning as it was formally dedicated.

The entire house could probably fit into a modern-day living room.

Passing someone in the hallway to the bedrooms and bathroom is, to say the least, tight. However, the two bedrooms, while quaint, seemed comfortable with minimal furniture.

Quinton Schaefer and Josh Brown both laughed when they thought about squeezing their families into the home.

“Considering our families are rather large, I do not think (I could live here),” Schaefer, 16, said. “I’m the oldest of six.”

“As an individual, I could probably do it,” Brown, 15, said. “But my family could not. I don’t even think we could pack everybody in here.”

Brown has eight siblings.

The New Tech Institute sophomores are building a replica of a doll house, modeled after Peters’ design of a Usonian home.

An Indiana native and Bosse graduate, Peters studied at Evansville College and MIT. He was American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s first apprentice at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1932.

The small Evansville house showcases an early example of Usonian style, Wright’s architectural effort at creating affordable, efficiently designed homes for working-class families.

Wright’s first Usonian house was built in 1936 in Wisconsin, but Peters built this house in Evansville in 1934.

Brandoch Peters, Peters’ son, told the crowd on Thursday that it would have “been criminal not to come back” to Evansville.

“I’m so glad for my father,” he said. “I’m just sorry that he wasn’t here. He would have really loved it. He was a brilliant guy. … He was way ahead of me, I’ll tell you that.”

Peters, who traveled from Spring Green, Wisconsin, never lived in the house.

“I didn’t even know it existed. … As long as 17 people weren’t stuffed in there, too, I would be fine,” he said. “Plenty of space, room for books; maybe not much room for food.”