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Prairie Style


Through the turn of the century, Wright's distinctively personal style was evolving, and his work in these years foreshadowed his so-called "prairie style," a term deriving from the publication in 1901 of "A Home in a Prairie Town" which he designed for the Ladies' Home Journal.

Prairie houses were characterized by low, horizontal lines that were meant to blend with the flat landscape around them. Typically, these structures were built around a central chimney, consisted of broad open spaces instead of strictly defined rooms, and deliberately blurred the distinction between interior space and the surrounding terrain. Wright acclaimed "the new reality that is space instead of matter" and, about architectural interiors, said that the "reality of a building is not the container but the space within." The W.W. Willits house, built in Highland Park, Illinois in 1902, was the first house that embodied all the elements of the prairie style. His masterpiece of the prairie style is the Robie House, built in Chicago in 1909.

Wright did not aspire simply to design a house, but to create a complete environment, and he often dictated the details of the interior. He designed stained glass, fabrics, furniture, carpet and the accessories of the house. Legend has it that, in at least one case, he even designed the gowns of his client's wife.The controlling factor was seldom the wishes of the individual client, but Wright's belief that buildings stongly influence the people who inhabit them. He believed that "the architect is a molder of men, whether or not he consciously assumes the responsibility."



Links to photographs and other materials:

B. Harley Bradley House (1900), Kankakee, Illinois. The "Wright in Kankakee" web site features color photographs and historical information about the Bradley House.< /P>

Warren Hickox House (1900), Kankakee, Illinois. B/W photograph and floor plan.

Ward W. Willits House (1901), Highland Park, Illinois. B/W photograph and floor plan of the house generally considered to be the first house in true Prairie style.

Willits House. Color photographs of exterior.

Frank Wright Thomas House, "The Harem" (1901), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph.

Frank Wright Thomas House. Color photographs of exterior.

Susan Lawrence Dana "Dana-Thomas" House (1902) and Lawrence Library (1905), Springfield, Illinois. This is the official web site of the Dana-Thomas House Foundation. In addition to a history of the house, biographical information, construction plans, etc., this site contains a discussion of prairie period design.

Dana-Thomas House. The State of Illinois historic site.

Dana-Thomas House. Podcast of house tour.

Dana-Thomas House. Color photographs of exterior.

William Martin House (1902), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Arthur Heurtley Residence (1902), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Heurtley Residence. Color photograph of exterior.

Edward Cheney House (1903), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph and discussion.

Cheney House. Color photograph.

Mrs. Thomas H. Gale House (1904), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph.

Gale House. Color photographs of exterior.

Darwin D. Martin House (1904), Buffalo, New York. Official site. History and photographs of house and restoration.

Darwin D. Martin House. Color photographs of exterior and interior.

Mary Adams House (1905), Highland Park, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Hiram Baldwin House (1905), Kenilworth, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Thomas P. Hardy House (1905), Racine, Wisconsin. Color photographs of exterior.

K. C. DeRhodes House (1906), South Bend, Indiana. Color photographs of exterior.

Edward R. Hills House (1906), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph; B/W photograph.

Frederick C. Robie House (1906), Chicago, Illinois. Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust site.

Robie House. Color photographs.

Robie House. Color photograph & discussion.

Avery Coonley House (1907), Riverside, Illinois. Color photographs.

A. T. Porter House, "Tan-y-deri" (1907), Spring Green, Wisconsin. Color photosgraphs.

Porter House, "Tan-y-deri" (1907), Spring Green, Wisconsin. Color photo & discussion.

Burton J. Westcott House (1908), Springfield, Ohio. Official site of the Westcott House with photographs, drawings and historical information.

G. C. Stockman House (1908), Mason CIty, Iowa. Official site of the Stockman House Museum. Color photograph and history of house.

Stockman House. Prairie School Architecture blog. Color photographs.

Isabel Roberts House (1908), River Forest, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Frank J. Baker House (1909), Wilmette, Illinois. Color photographs.

Baker House. Color photographs of exterior.

Oscar Steffens House (1909), Peoria, Illinois. (demolished) B/W photographs with discussion.

Rev. J. R. Zeigler House (1909), Frankfort, Kentucky. Color photographs & discussion.

Zeigler House. Color photographs of exterior.

J.H. Amberg House (1909), Grand Rapids, Michigan. Color photographs.

Amberg House. Color photographs.

J.K. Ingalls House (1909), River Forest, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Como Orchards-University Heights Subdivision (1909), Darby, Montana The website of Alpine Meadows Ranch, a Frank Lloyd Wright designed organic 250+ acre estate ranch and wildlife refuge that is reputed to be the first subdivision in the Prairie style. Website includes architectural drawings and color photographs.

Ingwald Moe House (1909-10), Gary, Indiana. B/W photographs and commentary.

O.B. Balch House (1911), Oak Park, Illinois. B/W photograph.

Balch House. Color photographs of exterior.

Francis W. Little House II (1912), Deephaven, Minnesota, living room. (house demolished) Living room reconstructed in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; color photograph of exhibit and brief text.

Avery Coonley Playhouse (1912), Riverside, Illinois, stained-glass triptych window. Color photograph.

Harry Adams Residence (1913), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.

Henry Allen "Allen-Lambe" House (1917), Wichita, Kansas. House museum site; color photographs of exterior and interior.

Unified Vision: The Architecture and Design of the Prairie School. Frank Lloyd Wright objects




The Little House window design is Copyright © 1998 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ.

 

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Links on this page last confirmed 5/1/13

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