Jim Berger was 12 years old when he wrote to American architect Frank Lloyd Wright requesting plans for a doghouse for his Labrador retriever, Eddie.
The architect obliged, drawing the plans on the back of an envelope.
Berger, a retired cabinetmaker living in Orangevale, has built and donated to Marin County a replica of that doghouse.
The donation to the county was made through the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy Commission, which seeks to preserve and protect the Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center complex in San Rafael, including landscaped grounds, according to a Marin County news release.
Never miss a local story.
The doghouse is known as Eddie’s House, named after the Berger family’s Labrador retriever. Eddie died before the original doghouse was built, but another family dog lived in it. The donated doghouse is the second one built according to the original Wright plans.
Berger grew up in San Anselmo in a Wright-designed home that today is known as the Berger House. His parents, Robert “Bob” and Gloria Berger, commissioned Wright to design the house in 1950-51. Bob Berger built the house to specifications over the course of 20 years.
Wright also designed a triangular doghouse on the back of an envelope, at no charge. His staff then completed formal plans for the doghouse and sent them to the Bergers.
Bob Berger built the first doghouse in the late 1950s, but it was disposed of in 1968. Bob Berger died in 1973, but Gloria Berger showed off the San Anselmo home until her death in 2011. Jim Berger received permission that year to build a new doghouse with the original plans to be shown in a documentary film about Wright.
The Marin County government headquarters building was designed in the late 1950s by Wright and built in the early 1960s, after Wright’s death in 1959. The Civic Center is a National Historic Landmark and one of 10 Wright buildings across the country nominated by the United States to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List.
Berger is scheduled to attend the Marin County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. County officials said they will work with the conservancy to preserve the doghouse so it can be shown publicly at the Civic Center.