Springfield, Ohio's Westcott House for Architecture + Design has been awarded a national grant. The CARES Act, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will give the Westcott House $59,047 to help retain staff, sustain payroll and to develop new public programming.
Given the lack of income many museums and arts attractions have suffered due to the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition for such grants has been fierce, and Westcott House executive director Marta Wojcik said having it is a great relief as the organization has seen only about 40 percent of the business it does in a typical summer. The Westcott House isn’t just a tourist attraction and legacy of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, but by also an organization devoted to architecture and design education, and that likely worked in its favor.
The Westcott House, the product of arguably the most important architect of the modern era, was designed in 1906 and built in 1908. In the early 1940s, the interior alterations—the conversion of the open floor plan into a multi-unit apartment building—changed the architecture so significantly that it no longer reflected the design intent of its architect. Due to these drastic alterations, the Westcott House remained an undiscovered relic for many years—a lost Wright artifact. Through the cooperative efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Westcott House Foundation, today the Westcott House is an important rediscovery, a notable, newly-unearthed and revitalized example of Wright's legacy.
The Westcott House not only embodies Frank Lloyd Wright's innovative Prairie School architectural design but also extended Wright's concept of relating the building to its site by means of a terrace, a lily pond, gardens, and other landscape elements. An extensive pergola capped with an intricate wooden trellis connected the detached garage to the main house, a design element included in only a few other Prairie Style houses.
Since the pandemic, the Westcott House has responded with a variety of virtual programming including webinars and is currently sponsoring a Virtual Tour Series version of its annual outdoor summer exploration of area architecture. The Westcott House is open for tours by appointment. For hours, tickets and guidelines, click here.
Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929–1975, by Susan Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino. Monacelli Press, 296 pages, $60. In this book, preservationist Susan Benjamin and architect and historian Michelangelo Sabatino survey the classic 20th-century single-family homes that defined American Midwestern Modernism. Focusing on 53 projects in Chicago and its suburbs, it includes popular icons as well as many lesser-known houses that have faded from memory.
Paul Makovsky gives us his review of how this book addresses the homes and the influences of iconic architects on the Chicago area. Several Frank Lloyd Wright houses are featured, including the Kathryn Dougherty and Lloyd Lewis House (1939) and the Muirhead Farmhouse (1951). Both Wright and Mies van der Rohe figure as the biggest influences on generations of Chicago architects.
The book comes alive with less familiar gems: an early Bertrand Goldberg flat-roofed house (1936) that once appeared out of place in the mostly conservative Evanston neighborhood of Colonial- and Tudor-inspired cottages; an overlooked work by Le Roy Binkley, a student of Mies, who never received the recognition achieved by many of his contemporaries; or Bruce Goff’s eclectic Ford House (1950) in Aurora, which incorporated materials like anthracite coal, steel, glass, cedar, and hemp. In each case, the authors briefly delve into the history of the house, the architect, the client, and even the house’s current condition.
The Benjamin and Sabatino also include the subject of scarcity of single-family houses designed by female, Hispanic, Asian, and African American architects in Chicago during this period—something that only started to change by the late 1960s. They include a few examples, such as the 1954 Chicago house by the talented John W. Moutoussamy —a student of Mies who also designed the Johnson Publishing Company, the only downtown Chicago high-rise by an African American—and work by Jean Wiersema Wehrheim, one of the few women architects in the book, who designed more than 150 houses, mostly in the city’s western suburbs. For more on this interesting book click here.
The Whirling Arrow features the first episode of Mid-CenturyHome.com’s new TALKS series, where the publication gets to know Emily Butler, Preservation Director at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Taliesin West. Learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy and preservation efforts at Taliesin West & Taliesin as the editor interviews Emily in this video. View it here.
A small gathering was held on Federal Plaza in Mason City, Iowa, on Thursday, marking the 110th anniversary of the Historic Park Inn, the only remaining Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in the world.
The historic North Iowa landmark has seen a number of iterations along the way, originally housing a hotel and bank, and later served as office space and harbored a storefront. After a massive restoration undertaking, overseen by non-profit committee Wright on the Park, was completed in 2011, the century-old building was reopened as an upscale hotel, featuring an event ballroom, restaurant and lounge. Its interior is nearly all original, but modern amenities have been introduced to the location, such as heated bathroom floors, accent lighting and flat-screen TVs.
Wright on the Park continues to fundraise for the building’s upkeep, as well as the promotion of the area’s achievements in architecture, which prior to the pandemic, had been a driver of year round tourism. The organization raises the money through special events, guided tours, and sales from a gift shop on the plaza. More here.
Experience Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House by twilight! This tour series is a chance to see one of Wright’s houses illuminated against a night sky, bringing a whole new dimension and radiance to the typical tour experience. They only offer a few tours a year in the evening, so seize this great opportunity today! Grab a drink, which is included in the price of your ticket, and take an informative, socially distanced, and fun open-house tour with plenty of time to take stunning photos.
Date & Time: Oct. 29, 2020 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $35. The Pope-Leighey House is located at 9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, Virginia. Buy tickets here.
Mark Hertzberg shares photos of the recent final installation of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Booth Cottage on its permanent foundation in Glencoe, IL. Check out Mark's photos on his Wright in Racine website here.
A historic Far South Side Chicago home designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright was sold to James Glover, a Chicago native, earlier this month for less than $200,000 after spending more than three years on the market.
Sitting on nearly a half acre of land, the 120-year-old faded yellow home, known as the Foster House and Stable, features steep roof peaks — something that wasn’t necessarily common in Wright’s designs — and has five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Its immense yard is like a grassy oasis, with two koi ponds and a water fountain, Glover said.
The home, which has a Japanese-influenced style to it, was “an important part of the development of Wright’s influential architectural style,” according to the Chicago Landmarks website. The home and its stable was originally built in 1900 as a summer home for Stephen Foster, a real estate attorney who worked with developers around the West Pullman neighborhood, the website said. The stable has since been converted into a three-car garage, Glover said.
In 1996, the property was declared a Chicago landmark, and it’s one of more than 40 Wright-designed buildings that remain in the Chicagoland area today, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Over the last several years, the property lost some of its beauty. The paint is chipping and the yard is filled with 5-foot-tall weeds and matted grass, Glover said. He described the property as a “fixer-upper” and hopes to restore the place to its original beauty.
“I have a friend, his name is Ward Miller...he’s an executive director of Preservation Chicago, he said that this house is like a Picasso or a Rembrandt [painting], and you have to be a conservator of the house, which is what I intend to do,” said Glover, 60.
Glover said he hopes to cash in on some of the funding from the city that’s available for preserving landmarks. He plans to replace the roof with a steel one and wants to repaint the exterior. More here.