George Smith House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1896

Posted by George Pudlo on December 16, 2011 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

George Smith House
404 S Home Avenue
Oak Park, IL

With its shingled façade, the George Smith House resembles Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home, just blocks away. One can see through the front windows and out the back of the house, a testament to the house’s open floor plan. The double pitch roof is characteristic of Wright’s early phase of design and gives a party hat appearance to the house. The eaves extend far over the walls of the house. Note how they help to shade the windows beneath the roof. Diamond paned art glass windows grace the front of the house. Wright would eliminate the tall chimneys in his later work.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1889/1898

Posted by George Pudlo on December 17, 2010 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Frank Lloyd Wright Home 1889 & Studio 1898

951 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park IL

The first house that Wright ever created was his own home in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Built in 1889, the young architect was only twenty-two years old when he designed his shingle style abode. Visitors are commonly taken aback by the appearance of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home, often expecting a house with a low profile, and long, horizontal lines, but it would be more than a decade before Wright would develop his first fully mature Prairie House. The general massing and planning of the house would be entirely redefined in the Prairie Style, but certain features of the house were the precursors of Wright’s later architectural themes. The most immediate, striking feature of the house, and a trait that would be seen in all of Wright’s work to come, is its strong sense of geometry. When looking at the house, one immediately notices the giant triangle, the gable. The eyes then begin to sense the texture of the shingled façade. The house, made at the instigation of his career, already buds an incredible connection to nature. The house is set far back on the lot, and the trees frame the house in a lovely, picturesque manner. The Frank Lloyd Wright Home, in many aspects, was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first natural house- an abstraction of nature, sympathetic to the simplicity of materials. The home foreshadows the direction Wright’s architectural evolution would take, following a period of experiment and transition, when the client’s wishes were nonnegotiable. Historical reference is minimal, though it maintains contemporary characteristics of other late 19th century homes.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home would see several alterations and additions during the twenty year period that Frank Lloyd Wright lived here. In 1895, Frank Lloyd Wright added a dining room and children's playroom, and moved the kitchen, which was originally where the dining room is now located. Many of the architectural experiments that Wright performed would take place in his own home. He would continue with this practice in his later Taliesin and Taliesin West homes. 

In 1898, after having offices in downtown Chicago, Wright decided to move his full time practice to his home and created the Frank Lloyd Wright Studio. He figured what better way to advertise as an architect than to practice out of a creation of his own design. The Frank Lloyd Wright Studio is adjacent to the original Frank Lloyd Wright Home, and the two are collectively known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio. 

The Frank Lloyd Wright Studio is similar in theory to the Unity Temple; it is a binuclear structure. It has two, large octagonal rooms separated by a central entrance. One walks into the columned entrance and is forced in either direction. To the right is Frank Lloyd Wright's personal library, where he stashed away many of his prized Japanese prints. To the left was the two story studio and drafting room. The top floor of the studio and drafting room is suspended from chains to free it from interior columns.

After Frank Lloyd Wright's departure from Oak Park in 1909 to Europe with his mistress, Mamah Cheney, Wright converted the studio into living quarters for his family that he was essentially abandoning. He converted the home into rentable apartments to subsidize the living costs of his family. The Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio was sold in 1925 after Wright's children had grown up, and was maintained as a multi unit apartment complex for the next several decades. In 1974, a non profit organization formed to purchase the Home & Studio and restore it back to Wright's final condition in 1909. The restoration took more than thirteen years to complete at a cost of nearly $3.5 million.

Warren McArthur House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1892

Posted by George Pudlo on December 17, 2010 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Warren McArthur House, 1892
4852 S Kenwood, Chicago IL

The George Blossom House’s next door neighbor, the Warren McArthur House, similarly blends historic similes with common characteristics of Wright’s early work. Described primarily as Dutch Colonial, the Warren McArthur House has a gambrel roof that lends it a barn like appearance. The house is situated sideways on the lot, with the main entrance and wider massing of the home facing the George Blossom House next door. Arches in the porch facing the street point to the influence of Louis Sullivan, as does the arched window in the attic. Dormer windows point backward to the Queen Anne Style, while its detailed corner windows, concrete stylobate, and stucco surface point forward. The rear of the house is conducted in the Shingle Style, as seen in Frank Lloyd Wright’s own Home & Studio in Oak Park, and influenced by his first employer, Joseph Silsbee. Both the George Blossom and Warren McArthur Houses make use of Roman brick, Wright’s preferred brick. Wright and McArthur were friends.


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