frank lloyd wright smith house

School teachers Sara Stein Smith and Melvyn Maxwell Smith, undeterred by their modest salaries and guided by a shared love of architecture, met Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in 1941 and commissioned a custom home. The Smith House in Bloomfield Hills is an excellent example of Wright’s Usonian ideal, which aimed to build quality houses for the American middle class.

Tours offer a unique view of this special home, its landscape, and the story of a couple whose vision and determination allowed them to achieve their dream. The tour begins at Smith House: 5045 Ponvalley Road, Bloomfield Township, Michigan 48304. Reservations are required in advance. 

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research is responsible for stewarding the Smith House and its collections and opening its doors to visitors from around the world. The house was donated to Cranbrook Educational Community in 2017 by The Towbes Foundation with support from Anne Smith Towbes and the late Michael Towbes.

The tour season begins the first weekend in May, with public tours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:00pm and Saturday at 11:00am Eastern Time. Final tours for the season occur the last weekend in November, then the House is closed for the winter.

Adults: $35
Full-time Students with ID: $20

Spend the day in Bloomfield Hills and plan a visit to Smith House and Saarinen House, located on the Cranbrook campus just a few blocks away. Saarinen House tours take place at 3:00pm following all Smith House tours. Also in Bloomfield Hills is the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Affleck House, which is owned by Lawrence Technological University. Tours of the Affleck House are available on the third Saturday of most months.

Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research offers a limited number of private tours of Frank Lloyd Wright Smith House from May through November, with at least three weeks of advance notice. The Center’s staff will be glad to include a visit through Frank Lloyd Wright Smith House as part of a longer custom-designed campus tour. To inquire about private tours, please call the Center at 248.645.3307. The tour begins at Smith House: 5045 Ponvalley Road, Bloomfield Township, Michigan 48304

Adults and Seniors: $50
Students with ID: $25 
Minimum Private Tour Group Fee: $250

  • Cranbrook no longer requires the use of facemasks indoors and leaves the decision of mask usage up to each individual visitor for their own safety and the safety of others. We ask that all visitors, staff, and volunteers respect each individual’s decision on how to keep themself safe from COVID-19.
  • Don’t feel well? Stay home. Visitors showing signs of illness will be asked to return at a later date.
  • Cranbrook's guidelines and safety procedures are in line with the current county, state, and CDC requirements and recommendations. 

This information was last updated March 29, 2022. 

In 2019, the Center for Collections and Research collaborated with SEEN Magazine and photographer Brett Mountain of PLAC3D to create a 3D “Walk Through Tour” of the interior of Smith House. While nothing replaces the experience of visiting the house with a knowledgeable staff member, the 3D tour is the next best thing.

Smith House photography by Brett Mountain of SEEN Magazine.

Frank Lloyd Wright had many connections to Cranbrook, including as a visiting lecturer at the Academy of Art, a colleague of Eliel Saarinen in the international architectural scene, and as the commissioner of works by Cranbrook artists for his building projects. 

Frank Lloyd Wright often told his clients to find property no one wanted, with the idea that such a plot would have some interesting natural feature with which Wright’s organic architecture could interact. In the case of the Smith House site, the interest came from the marshland and its enormous oaks. In time, what proved to be equally important for Melvyn and Sara Smith was the site’s proximity to Cranbrook and the interaction they would have with Cranbrook’s programs and artists. 

smith house oral history project

As part of the Center for Collections and Research's commitment to preserve the legacy of Smith House for future generations, an oral history project is currently underway to collect stories and learn more about the Smiths, the house, and its contents from the many people involved in its creation. 

Urban Jupena
photo credits (FROM TOP TO BOTTOM)

Haefner, James. Interior of Smith House. 2017. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Bloomfield Hills.

Haefner, James. Exterior rear daylight. 2010. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Bloomfield Hills.

Kim, Jin. Smith House Tour, 2017. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Bloomfield Hills.

Croze, Harvey. Carl Milles, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eliel Saarinen on the steps of Milles House on Cranbrook’s Academy Way. March 1945. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Bloomfield Hills.

Adkisson, Kevin. View of screen separating the dining room and workspace at Smith House. Mixed media screen by Glen Michaels (CAA MFA ’58, Painting; CAA, Supervisor of Art for Children, 1959-65), installed after 1959. Photographed October 2017. Courtesy Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Bloomfield Hills.

Adkisson, Kevin. Artist Urban Jupena in Smith House. June, 2017. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Bloomfield Hills.