“The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the
landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.” — FLW prairie

Prairie style Willits House
Through the turn of the century, Wright’s distinctively personal style was evolving. 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 and consisted of broad open spaces instead of strictly defined rooms. Prairie houses deliberately blurred the distinction between interior space and the surrounding terrain. Wright acclaimed “the new reality that is space instead of matter.” About architectural interiors, he 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. Consequently, 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 rather Wright’s belief that buildings strongly 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.

Bradley House and Hickox House. Color photographs of the two Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Kankakee, Illinois.

Warren Hickox House (1900), Kankakee, Illinois. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Black and white photo with discussion.

Warren Hickox House. B/W photograph and floor plan.

Ward W. Willits House (1901), Highland Park, Illinois. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Black and white photo with discussion.

Willits House. 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.

Willits House. Wikipedia article with color photograph, location map, and discussion.

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

Frank Wright Thomas House. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Color photo with discussion.

Frank Wright Thomas House. Color photographs of exterior.

Prairie Style 1

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 photo gallery with pictures of the Dana-Thomas house.

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. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Black and white photo with discussion.

Heurtley Residence. Old family pictures of the house.

Heurtley Residence. Color photographs of exterior.

Heurtley Residence. Color photograph of exterior.

George Gerts Double House, “Bridge Cottage” (1902), Whitehall, Michigan. Color photograph.

Edward Cheney House (1903), Oak Park, Illinois. Black and white photos of interior and exterior of house. Site includes biographical information about Mrs. Cheney and news articles related to her affair with Wright.

Cheney House. Color photograph.

Prairie Style 1

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 W. Martin House. Wikipedia article with color photograph, location map, and discussion.

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

Darwin D. Martin House. New York State historic site with color photograph and brief discussion. Information about tours of the Martin House complex.

Mary Adams House (1905), Highland Park, Illinois. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Color photo with discussion.

Adams House. Color photographs of exterior.

Adams House. Wikipedia article with color photograph, location map, and discussion.

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

Baldwin House. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Color photo with discussion.

Baldwin House. Wikipedia Commons site, color photograph.

Prairie Style 1

Thomas P. Hardy (1905), Racine, Wisconsin. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Color photo with discussion.

Hardy House. Color photographs of exterior.

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

Edward R. Hills House (1906), Oak Park, Illinois. Wikipedia article with color photograph, location map, and discussion.

Hills House. Color photograph of exterior.

Hills House. Color photograph and discussion.

Frederick C. Robie House (1906), Chicago, Illinois. Official site of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust with color photographs and discussion.

Robie House. University of Chicago site with color photographs, brief discussion and tour information.

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 photographs.

Prairie Style 1

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. Color and b/w photographs and discussion.

Isabel Roberts House (1908), River Forest, Illinois. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Color photo with discussion.

Roberts House. Color photographs of exterior.

Roberts House. Wikipedia article with color photograph, location map, and discussion.

Prairie Style 2

Meyer May House (1908), Grand Rapids, Michigan. Color photographs and discussion.

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. Photographs and discussion.

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.

Prairie Style 1

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

Balch House. Luxury real estate site featuring color photographs showing exterior and interior of Balch house.

Balch House. Wikipedia article with color photograph, location map, and discussion.

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.

Emil Bach House (1915), Chicago, Illinois. Official site of Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, color photograph and discussion.

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

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park, Illinois Designs: The Prairie Period 1900-1913.” Blog post by David Kramer on The Craftsman Bungalow.


Links on this page last confirmed 2/4/17
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