The Houses that Frank Built
June 15, 2017 11:38 AM   Subscribe

An Illustrated Guide to the Best Works of Frank Lloyd Wright.

It's the 150th anniversary of his birth this year.
List of celebratory festivals and photos of his beautiful houses and structures here.
posted by storybored (22 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
My daughter lives in Racine and most days I'm there I walk by the Hardy House.
It's really close to the sidewalk, and I love the art glass windows, but I didn't realize until now that they are 'an abstraction of the floorplan of the house itself.'
Other days I walk by the SC Johnson headquarters, which is pretty cool itself, in a very different way.

I've always liked his work, even after reading 'The Women'.
posted by MtDewd at 12:02 PM on June 15

Which FLW ranks above another may be a purely subjective exercise, and we all have our favourites, but even so -- it's hard to imagine that the Darwin Martin House and the Larkin Building didn't make the cut of 'Best Works'.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:17 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]

It is interesting to see these laid out in that way, but I found the illustrations to be frustrating. I'd much rather see photos of the buildings themselves. Or, maybe Wright's own drawings. )After all, isn't how is buildings are uniquely situated on their sites a big part of his greatness? )
posted by scottatdrake at 12:42 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful, thank you for posting! The first thing I thought when I saw it was, I hope I can get a print - and the article includes a download. I have been fortunate enough to have lived in numerous places where I was able to see a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and have traveled to numerous places where I was able to see them, as well. A sad moment in exploring my new hometown [outside Charlotte NC] was coming across an article about a home built by a Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice, that was demolished last year.
posted by racersix6 at 12:43 PM on June 15

Wish they would have included Eddie's House.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:44 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]

For your daydreaming needs: check out FLW houses currently on the market. There are always some which are surprisingly affordable, if you're not opposed to a little pied-a-terre in Nowhere, Wisconsin.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:04 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]

My neighborhood contains the Malcolm Wiley House, which the present owner has fully restored. It was very interesting to take a tour of it years ago. The thing that makes the house was the view it once posessed of the Mississippi River which is no now obscured by freeway wall. You can definitely see the echoes of the outside being part of the inside experience.
posted by jadepearl at 1:07 PM on June 15

I'm partial to the Marin County Civic Center, but maybe that's because it is the only Frank Lloyd building that I've seen (it is visible from the freeway).

Parts of it have similarities to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.
posted by eye of newt at 1:17 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]

it's hard to imagine that the Darwin Martin House and the Larkin Building didn't make the cut of 'Best Works'

No... way too mild... SCREAMS OF RAGE! Grar!

The Darwin Martin house is weird because it's just in a normal residential neighborhood that isn't even super-fancy. We had showed up in 2007 to look for houses and were just driving around acquainting ourselves with the area and doing drive-byes of houses we'd liked over the intarwebs. One of them was a 3/2 Victorian in Parkside for like $85-90K, and as we drove by we noticed that there was an open house in a little while! So we parked and walked around this neighborhood where we were looking at a not-obviously-falling-down house for under $100K, and sure enough a few blocks away there was the D-W house just sittin' there being all house-ey at us. Weird.

We had figured that house at that price was gonna need work and while it was liveable someone had replaced the fireplace with... nothing, obscured by a screen, and everything was from 1960-whatever and it would have taken a long time to scrub the Sad Old People smells out of it, and it didn't even have a driveway. So Snyder it was.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:31 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Interesting, but I'm seconding scottatdrake. I would prefer to see interior photos. I lived around the corner from his studio in Oak Park for ~10 years and regularly walked past several of his Oak Park homes. I always longed to see how they looked now—what, if any changes, have been made over the years.
posted by she's not there at 1:35 PM on June 15

My personal favourite (so far, of ones I've visited) is the Smith House in Bloomfield Hills, MI. The Smiths were an ordinary couple of modest means -- very modest -- and they built the thing themselves, having a few false starts along the way.

Cozy does not begin to describe it. It was well-lived-in, complete with unsympathetic La-Z-Boy recliners and such. But to balance that out, they also managed to collect some lovely sculpture from artists at nearby Cranbrook, so they would have a Bertoia in the living room, no big deal.

You should visit. Lovely place.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:40 PM on June 15

I'm planning a Wright tour in Buffalo in the next two weeks, so thanks for this!

My second cousin was Edgar Kaufmann's secretary during the building of Fallingwater. She sat just outside Kaufmann's Wright-designed Pittsburgh office (now in London) and fielded communications between her boss and the Wright camp. She is a matter-of-fact woman, not given to embellishment; her stories about those days are amazing.

Can't say I'm a Wright fan. I toured the "Child of the Sun" campus (called a "best work") and found it strangely hostile to its occupants. The campus is connected with concrete porticos at an awkward height which forces many students to wear paths in the grass alongside, rather than walk on the sidewalks beneath. The celebrated fountain is in a space I'd call unwelcoming (hot, no shade, notable absence of seating). Wright-designed seating was known to be uncomfortable so this is unsurprising.

Touring Wright sites is fascinating if only for his unique vision, which I might not admire but certainly respect for its innovations and consistent aesthetic. And the owners' stories are interesting as well.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:46 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

it's hard to imagine that the Darwin Martin House and the Larkin Building didn't make the cut of 'Best Works'.

Agreed! I would love to see the perpetually overlooked Darwin Martin House available as one of the Lego architecture sets someday (although: I'd like to see the Richardson Towers or Central Terminal get there first) (or Kleinhans, or City Hall....)
posted by everybody had matching towels at 1:58 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]

The obligatory Fallingwater/Moldau reference...
posted by jim in austin at 2:35 PM on June 15

Capt. Renault: thank you for the info/Wikipedia link re the Smith house. Nice story and the house does, indeed, sound lovely.
posted by she's not there at 2:44 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

Glad to see Price Tower in there. My mother grew up in Bartlesville and went to the dedication with my grandfather, who worked in the oil industry. They got to meet the architect and my teenaged mother was quite taken with him (his appeal to women is apparently not exaggerated), but her father the engineer was not impressed (another FLW trope that is apparently somewhat true).

I was a little disappointed but not surprised to see that another unique Wright property, Auldbrass, was not on the list. A sprawling compound on 300+ acres in the South Carolina low country, the original owners never finished construction even after 2 decades, and it fell further and further into disrepair until a Hollywood producer with very deep pockets bought it in 1986 and embarked on a restoration and completion project that thirty years and tens of millions of dollars later is still not quite finished. Definitely worth a visit if you can go on one of the rare weekends when it is open to the public.
posted by TedW at 3:23 PM on June 15

Oh neat! La Miniatura (Alice Millard House) made the list. A way, way back in the day I was acquainted with a young woman who was the live in au pair for the woman who owned that place. It was not well maintained then, but regardless, my acquaintance hosted a couple of magnificent dinner parties there when her employer was away.

Subsequent owners have completely restored it, which is great, but not as great as having gotten loaded in a FLW masterpiece.
posted by notyou at 3:50 PM on June 15

Yeah those illustrations were not great. But I learned that I can buy a FLW for $499k!!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:05 PM on June 15

I wish the illustrator had taken more care with the (first--there were two) Jacobs house. She/he got the understated form correct, but really missed the mark in conveying the real beauty of the place. I know there are hundreds of pictures online if anyone is curious.
posted by The Potate at 12:54 AM on June 16

The F.B. Henderson House, which is a couple blocks from where my parents now live, is back on the market AGAIN. If you look at the pricing history, the existing owners have been trying to sell this place since 2007, most likely because they have grown weary of having this home own them.

(Related: within two blocks of the Henderson home are two homes built by former FLW associate Walter Burley Griffin, the Emery House and the William B. Sloane House.)
posted by stannate at 11:24 AM on June 18

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