Guide to the Photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright Houses
circa 1901-1929

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Overview of the Collection

Title: Photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright houses
Dates: circa 1901-1929 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 35 photographic prints (1 box)various sizes
Location of Collection: Materials are located in Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries. For more information about this collection including links to additional digital content, please connect to the finding aid on the University of Washington website.
Collection Number: 107
Summary: Photographs of houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, primarily in Illinois.
Repository: University of Washington Libraries
Special Collections

Box 352900
Seattle, WA 98195-2900

Languages: Collection materials are in English.  
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Content Description

The collection consists of photographs of the interiors and exteriors of houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Also shown is the Hillside Home School. Most houses included in the collection are located in the Oak Park/River Forest area in Illinois, near Wright’s own home. Built in the Prairie School style, they were among the first of Wright's independent commissions. Wright also designed many of the interior details of these houses, giving attention to features such as the furniture, fabric, and stained glass windows.

Photographs may have been taken by A.C.P. Willatzer.

Historical Background

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, on June 8, 1867, to William Cary Wright and Anna Lloyd Jones Wright. Wright got a job working for Allen D. Conover, a local builder, and began taking drafting classes at the University of Wisconsin. In 1887 Wright pawned some of his father’s books and bought a train ticket to Chicago. On his fourth day in Chicago he walked into the office of Joseph Lyman Silsbee and after being interviewed by Cecil Corwin, one of the draftsman in Silsbee’s office, Wright obtained a job as a tracer for eight dollars a week.

Wright worked for Silsbee for about a year before he left to take a better paying drafting job with Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, who were working on the design of the Auditorium Theater in Chicago at the time. Wright referred to Sullivan as his Lieber Meister (beloved master) and was the only architect that Wright would acknowledge had an influence on him. Wright's philosophy and future work was born out of Sullivan’s concept that "form follows function." In 1889 Wright borrowed $5,000 from Louis Sullivan to purchase a lot in Oak Park, Illinois, and build his first house. He stayed with Adler and Sullivan until 1893 when a dispute over his acceptance of a growing number of independent commissions led Sullivan to fire him.

After leaving the employ of Adler and Sullivan, Wright opened his own office in the Schiller building in downtown Chicago, sharing space with Cecil Corwin. In 1894 he relocated his office to the 11th floor of the Steinway Piano Company building, joining Robert Spencer and Dwight Perkins and the others who would develop the Prairie School of Architecture. This arrangement lasted until 1898, when Wright added a studio to his home in Oak Park. The studio became the new home for his practice and at various times was the workplace of some of the most notable of Prairie School architects, including Walter Burley Griffin, Marion Mahony, John Van Bergen, William Drummond, and Francis Barry Byrne. The studio was closed in 1911, at which time Wright began working on his own.

On April 4, 1959, Wright had surgery for an intestinal blockage. Despite his apparent recovery, he suddenly died five days later on April 9th. Wright's body was returned to Spring Green to be laid to rest in the family burial ground at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

The collection is open to the public.

Restrictions on Use :  

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Preferred Citation :  

Photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright Houses. Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The photographs are arranged chronologically by date of construction, then alphabetically by last name of project.

Additional Reference Guides :  

To view selections from the collection in digital format, you can view the finding aid on the University of Washington website

Processing Note :  

Processed by Laurel G. Evans, 2005, and Megan E. Peacock, 2006; processing completed in 2006.


Detailed Description of the Collection

William Winslow House, River Forest, Illinois

Built in 1893 on a private street on the Edward Waller estate, the Winslow house was Wright's first important independent commission and his first attempt at reinventing the traditional house. The Winslow house was a marked departure from the traditional homes in the Oak Park/River Forest area. The exterior of the house was designed first and the interior floor plan was then made to fit. The design was so unusual that Winslow stopped commuting on his usual train to avoid his neighbors' comments.

Container(s)
Description
Dates
Folder
1 1: Exterior of house, probably the front door undated
1 2: Detail of exterior ornamentation undated

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3:  Exterior of the Nathan Grier Moore House, Oak Park, Illinois, undated

Built in 1895 of Roman brick, in a Tudor style. The house was rebuilt above the first floor in 1923 after a fire in 1922. The Moore house is located across the street from the Huertley house.

Container(s)
folder
2

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B. Harley Bradley House, Kankakee, Illinois

One of two houses Wright built in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1900. The B. Harley Bradley house (also known as "Glenlloyd") is on the west side of Harrison Street at the north bank of the Kankakee River. The home has been a private residence, a site where bird houses and cat traps were made, and an internationally known restaurant, "Yesteryear." After being repossessed, left to nearly rot away, and then owned by a man who was murdered while renovating it, Glenlloyd was finally restored to its original 1900 design by a local cooperative of architects and attorneys.

Container(s)
Description
Dates
Folder
3 4: Exterior of house undated
3 5-6: Living room undated
3 7: Dining room undated

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8:  Exterior of the Frank Thomas House, Oak Park, Illinois, undated

Built in 1901, this house was commissioned by James C. Rogers for his daughter and her husband, Frank Wright Thomas. The Thomas house is often considered Wright's first Prairie Style home in Oak Park. It is also his first all stucco home in Oak Park. Using stucco instead of wood meant that Wright could design clear, geometric forms.

Container(s)
folder
4

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Ward W. Willits House, Highland Park, Illinois

Designed in 1901, the Willits house is considered the first of the great Prairie Style Houses. However, as it was not constructed until several years later, it was not the first Prairie House actually to be built. Located in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the house presents a symmetrical facade to the street. The floor plan is a cruciform with four wings that extend out from a central hearth. In addition to art glass windows and wooden screens that divide rooms, Wright also designed most of the furniture in the house.

Container(s)
Description
Dates
Folder
5 9-11: Exterior of house undated
5 12-13: Living room undated
5 14: Dining room undated

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15-23:  Exterior of the Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, Illinois, undated

Susan Lawrence Dana's 1902 commission to Wright to plan the "remodeling" of the Lawrence's Victorian mansion was the largest commission that Wright had enjoyed up to that time. Widowed in 1900, Dana (1862-1946) decided to completely remodel her family's Italianate home to express her personality and help her become the leading hostess in Springfield. The finished house reflects Wright's Prairie Style, Dana's flamboyant personality, and the appreciation of both architect and patron for Japanese prints and drawings.

Wright designed more than 250 art-glass windows, doors, and light panels for the house, most of which survive. Much of the art glass, and the mural by George Mann Niedecken in the dining room, centered on a sumac motif. The ground-level library contains special easels designed by Wright for the display of Dana's collection of Japanese prints; the easels are some of the more than 100 pieces of Wright-designed white oak furniture in the house. Susan Lawrence Dana lived in the house from 1904 until about 1928.

Charles C. Thomas, a successful medical publisher, became the second owner and custodian of the house in 1944. He and his wife maintained the house's original furnishings and design. They sold the home and its furnishings as a unit to the state of Illinois in 1981. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency took control of the mansion in 1985 and led a restoration effort that has refitted the house to its 1906 appearance. It is believed to contain one of the most intact Frank Lloyd Wright architectural interiors in the United States.

Please see The Dana-Thomas House website for more information.

Container(s)

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Hillside Home School II, Spring Green, Wisconsin

Wright's aunts, Jane and Ellen Lloyd-Jones, founded a combination home, school, and farm for both young and old in 1887 near Spring Green. In 1902 Wright built a larger, more complex structure, known as Hillside Home School II, to serve as his aunt's school. After the school closed, Wright integrated Hillside Home School II into his Taliesin Fellowship Complex in 1933. The original Hillside Home School building was demolished in 1950.

Container(s)
Description
Dates
Folder
7 24-26: Exterior of school undated
7 27: Laboratory undated

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28:  Exterior of the Huertely House, Oak Park, Illinois, undated

In 1902 Arthur Huertley commissioned two structures, a home half a block away from Wright's studio in Oak Park, Illinois, and a cottage in northern Michigan. The exterior of the Heurtley House is laid with brick that at a distance suggests board and batten. This house is considered to be the first fully mature Prairie Style house.

Container(s)
folder
8

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29-34:  Exterior of the Francis W. Little House, Peoria, Illinois, undated

The house was built in 1902 for Francis W. Little, a Chicago attorney and friend of Wright's. When Little moved to Peoria at the turn of the century, he asked Wright to build a house for him, a home that in the end cost $14,000. Little lived in the house for only a short time before moving to Minnesota, at which time he sold the house to Robert Clarke. In 1909 Clarke engaged Wright to expand the original house. In 1919, Clarke sold the home to a chicken rancher, Frank Foster, who sold it to Charles and Laura Buehler less than ten years later.

On item: "Residence of R.D. Clarke, Peoria, Illinois."

Container(s)

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35:  Exterior of the William E. Martin House, Oak Park, Illinois, undated

Commissioned in 1902 and completed in 1903, Martin's house brought Wright eight other major commissions. Wright subsequently designed the E-Z Polish factory, which was owned by William E. Martin and his brother Darwin D. Martin. Darwin Martin was employed by the Larkin Company in Buffalo, New York, and helped persuade the company to have Wright design its new administration building. Darwin also commissioned Wright to design his home and a gardeners cottage in Buffalo, New York, as well as a summer residence in Derby, New York. In addition, homes were built in Buffalo for George Barton, Martin's brother in law, and for W.R. Heath and Alexander Davidson, who were Larkin Company employees.

Container(s)
folder
10

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Subjects

  • Personal Names :
  • Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959
  • Corporate Names :
  • Dana House (Springfield, Ill.)
  • Francis W. Little House (Peoria, Ill.)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Highland Park (Ill.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Kankakee (Ill.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Oak Park (Ill.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Peoria (Ill.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Spring Green (Wis.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Springfield (Ill.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Subject Terms :
  • Architect-designed houses-- Illinois--Oak Park--Photographs
  • Architect-designed houses-- Illinois--Photographs
  • Architecture, Domestic--Illinois--20th century--Photographs
  • Architecture, Domestic--Illinois--Oak Park--20th century--Photographs
  • Houses--Illinois--1900-1910
  • Houses--Illinois--Oak Park--1900-1910
  • Prairie school (Architecture)--Illinois--Oak Park--Photographs
  • Prairie school (Architecture)--Illinois--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Architectural photographs
  • Photographic prints

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