Retired teacher discovers her house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015
In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, photo, retired teacher Linda McQuillen stands in front of her home designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Madison, Wis.
Carrie Antlfinger/AP-AP

It's not every day that you discover your home was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. But that's exactly what happened to 69-year-old Linda McQuillen.

Wright experts announced on Tuesday that McQuillen's Madison, Wis. home was in fact an American System-Built House, part of Wright's effort to develop and market well-designed homes at a more affordable level, according to the Associated Press. The house, located less than a half-mile away from where Wright went to school, is one of only 16 ever built and 14 still standing.

"It's pretty exciting, I've got to tell you. And pretty overwhelming," McQuillen said. "I didn't know it was a Frank Lloyd Wright home and had no imagination it would be."

While there was speculation McQuillen's house was a Wright home, it was only confirmed when Mary Jane Hamilson, a Wright scholar, found a 1917 Wisconsin Journal newspaper advertisement by a Madison building company offering Wright's American System-Built Homes. That same company was listed on the building permit for McQuillen's home, which indicated it was building a spec house.

The house hasn't always looked as pristine as it does today. Originally built in 1917, the house had fallen into disrepair. When McQuillen purchased it for $100,000 in 1989, it was in such bad shape that a tree was growing through the roof of the garage. But McQuillen and her family undertook a massive refurbishing, helping restore the historic house. The retired teacher said that the news makes her investment in the home more than worth it.

"It does feel like a reward, a vindication that when I saw the house and could see beyond the disrepair that I knew there was something substantive," she said. "The house really spoke to me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.