“I would appreciate it if you could design a dog house for me that would be easy to build but would fit our home,” Berger wrote in the letter. “The reason I would want this dog house is mainly for the winter.”
The letter Berger wrote to Wright. Credit: MARINA PROVINCE
He offered Eddie’s age, “four years old or, in the dog’s life, 28 years,” and size, “two and a half feet high and three feet long.”
He offered to pay the architect for the design with money from his paper route.
“A home for Eddie is an opportunity,” Wright wrote in his reply, dated June 28, 1956. “One day I’ll design one, but now I’m too busy to focus on it. You’ll write to me next November to Phoenix, Arizona and then I might have something.”
It wasn’t until the following year that the architect sent Berger the plans for the triangular dog house, written on the back of an envelope and provided free of charge. The design incorporates features of Wright’s work in general and of the Bergers’ home, such as the low roof and exaggerated overhang.
The doghouse at the Marin County Civic Center. Credit: MARINA PROVINCE
However, the doghouse shown is not the actual doghouse used by Eddie. Berger’s father, Robert, and brother, Eric, built the doghouse in 1963 when Berger joined the military, six years after receiving Wright’s plans. But the family’s labrador didn’t use the doghouse, and in 1970, Berger’s mother Gloria sent it to the landfill, according to the county.
In 2010, Berger and Eric built another version of the doghouse based on Wright’s plans as part of a documentary, “Romanza,” about Wright’s life. And in 2016, Berger donated the unique structure to Marin County.
The doghouse is the smallest structure Wright has ever designed, the county says. The architect died in 1959, just two years after emailing Berger the design for his canine companion.