Tucked away in seemingly average neighborhoods are some not-so-average homes.
A home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright sits in a suburb of Cincinnati. The same artist who helped design China’s impressive Olympic Stadium designed a modern home in Ancram, N.Y., a small town in upstate New York.
In neighborhoods across the U.S., these homes built by famous architects and designers stand among those with less impressive pedigrees. Many of these homes, designed for their original owners and kept in the family, rarely hit the market -- or they have been severely altered over the years, diminishing their value. But quite a few are either on the market right now, or were put up for sale within the past year.
Take a glimpse at what some of these one-of-a-kind architectural gems offer.
Frank Lloyd Wright - Tonkens House
Quite a few Frank Lloyd Wright homes have been put on the market recently across the country. Two notable homes remain on the market today: The Gerald B. Tonkens House outside Cincinnati and the Isidore Heller House in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
This is the first time the Tonkens house has been for sale since it was built in 1954. Anyone visiting the home would know that it’s special by the red carpet-style entrance: The driveway leading to the entrance is painted red.
The home’s aesthetic is known as a “Usonian Automatic,” a term Wright used to describe his own middle-income homes built with concrete blocks. On the Tonkens home, he used 11 different patterns of concrete block with more than 400 inset windows. The home includes dozens of features, including mahogany-paneled walls, ceilings gilded in 18-carat gold leaf, multiple fireplaces, a long library and entry hall, private study, three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The sale price of $1.8 million also includes the original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed furniture, built to accompany the home.
Frank Lloyd Wright - Heller House
The Heller House in Chicago offers a glimpse into a different variety of Wright’s homes, the Prairie School style. The 16-room, 6,100-square-foot home has seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, four fireplaces and an elevator that services all three floors. Wright’s oak woodwork and stained glass windows remain largely intact in the home, currently on the market for $2.4 million.
Built in 1897, the home has actually had many owners, unlike the Tonkens home’s sole owner, and has subsequently been remodeled and then restored through the years. The home was designated a Chicago landmark in 1971and upgraded to a national landmark in 2004. That, of course, means that anyone buying the property can’t make many changes to it.
Charles McKim - Gusty Gables
This 7,000-square-foot home was designed by famed 19th century architect Charles McKim in 1879. It’s an example of his unique style popular in New England, called “shingle style,” that prominently features ornamental shingles.
The Lenox, Mass. home includes eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, eight fireplaces, a pool with pool house and tennis courts. Though it has been modernized, it’s reportedly the last surviving McKim original in the region. The home, nicknamed Gusty Gables, is on the market for $3.65 million.
Frank Gehry – Borman Estate
Frank Gehry may be the most well-known (and controversial) modern architect in the U.S. His concert halls and art museums often look whimsical and deconstructed. While his 1989 Borman Estate home in Malibu doesn't quite fit the bill, its sloped roof amid boxy walls hints at the architect’s larger body of work.
The massive, $57.5 million mansion was designed for insurance executive Burton Borman, who died last year. It sits on the beach on a smaller street running parallel to the Pacific Coast Highway and has six bedrooms and ten bathrooms, a lap pool, tennis court, plenty of deck space and high ceilings.
Robert A.M. Stern house
This Montauk home was designed by Robert A.M. Stern, currently the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, and an award-winning architect and writer. His postmodern style made him famous, and this $2.3 million Hamptons-area home shows his new spin on classic Hamptons style.
However, the home has been modified since it was built in 1970 to include more living space and a two-car garage. There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as multi-level decking and patio space that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
Bonus: Ai Weiwei house
Ai Weiwei, a famous artist in China, is known in the U.S. for one thing: A giant bird's nest. Weiwei was the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium, featured in the 2008 Olympic Games.
His only home in the U.S. -- a collaboration with Swiss-based HHF Architects -- recently hit the market, but was quickly snapped up last summer for $4.25 million. The aluminum-wrapped home, located in Ancram, N.Y., has three bedrooms -- one located in the combination garage/guest house that blends seamlessly with the rest of the home -- and three bathrooms. Its sleek, ultra-modern, four-box structure is open to views of the surrounding Catskill and Berkshire Mountains.
Bonus: Jens Quistgaard – Dansk Lake House
Known mostly for his design work for Dansk Designs, a Scandinavian modern tableware company, Jens Quistgaard also has an eye for architectural design. In 1961, he designed a unique home for Dansk co-founder Ted Nierenberg in North Castle, N.Y., a suburb north of New York City.
Known as the Dansk Lake House, the 7,100-square-foot home has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and sits on nearly 20 acres of land, complete with private lake, waterfall and gardens. The home’s design features include daunting beamed ceilings, ornamental brickwork, carved wood accents and a handcrafted wood-spiral staircase. But its most noticeable feature, the folding-plate roof, sets it apart in this quiet, forested area. The home was last listed for $5.5 million but sold last year for an unlisted price.