Sunday, December 17, 2006

Feels like I'm all the way back where I belong

This weekend I finally made the pilgrimage to Westcott House in Springfield. It's the only Prairie-style house that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Ohio and it was recently opened to the public after a massive restoration that brought it back from decades of neglect. The background can be found at the Westcott Foundation's website, which details the history of the house from Wright's commission by the Westcotts, a progressive couple with both money and influence, through decades of ownership changes, including unfortunate additions and ultimately subdivision to a multi-family residence. Understanding and appreciating Wright's genius as we do today, this remuddling seems horrifying, but the curators feel this house survived more intact as a rental property than had it been a single family home, more subject to the decorating whims of an owner actually inhabiting it. Anyway, when the Foundation purchased the house, it looked like this:
After years of renovation, to the tune of over 5 million dollars, it looks like this:
The pictures don't even do it justice. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The house and grounds are stunning, meticulously restored and preserved for future generations to appreciate. I went through a phase when I was the owner of a quaint little Craftsman bungalow where I devoured all things Frank Lloyd Wright. Maybe because of this, or maybe it's just the feeling one gets when experiencing great art, but walking through and around this house, I found myself welling up with tears. It's a masterpiece and that's not just me talking. Wright experts count it as one of the best Prairie style houses he designed. If you're ever in the area, you should check it out. I'm going back in the spring when the awnings are out, the reflecting pool is filled and the gardens are in bloom. Inspired by Angelina feting Brad for his birthday at Fallingwater, I asked if Westcott House can be rented. It can, by the hour. Care to join me? We could do lunch under the awnings in front of the pool. I'd be so giddy, I'm sure it'd take minimal coaxing to get me bent over the library table. If it worked for Angelina (and you just know she gives it to him from behind), it'll prolly work for you.


The Other Andrew said...

Which way to the library?...

I LOVE Wright! I have a book which I got on some remainder table sale and it's every project of his in chronological order, by year. It's called Wright Year By Year and I think it's out of print. Fascinating stuff, very interesting to see his style changes.

Ur-spo said...

lovely photo as always
Come visit Phoenix and I'll take you to Talisen West

Anonymous said...

ooh you lucky lucky dog -- I LOVE Craftsman architecture!

Michael said...

TOA, sounds like a good read. I have a few volumes on him stashed somewhere, and yes, it's interesting to see how his style changed, while still retaining key elements (blending the structure to its site..blurring outside and glass..) throughout his career.

ur-spo, I'd LOVE to see TW! I went to school in Chicago for four years, but it was before my fascination with Wright, so I want to go through all those Oak Park places again in the new year.

CB, as I gushed, it's a beautiful place. Transcendent even. Is that going too far? Also interesting how my lil' bungalow, built in the 19-teens, mimicked so many aspects of the style, from deep eaves to wrap-around casement windows to a sleeping porch, etc. Why did I ever sell that?!

Michael Guy said...

I'm going to try and bite the bullet on your love of all things Prairie-style ala WRIGHT. We diverge here. But maybe with a bottle of fine chardonnay, some Lincoln Logs and a fireside blankie nap you can change my mind.

Michael said...

MG, you know, it was a fascination and now it's more of an appreciation. This house is art. That said, it's amazing how TODAY this house is, considering it was built 100 years ago. It has a large kitchen, a huge continuous living space of library, reception area, dining room and hearth room, five bedrooms and 4.5 (!) baths with a very open floor plan and TONS of windows. Very "today" wouldn't you say? I'd be in heaven living there, but I could be equally happy in something mid-century modern or modern modern, or, truth be told, a generic condo or dinky ranch if it contained the right guy.

Beau RN said...

OMG..I LOVE Craftsman Bungalows. ACK!

I've lived in Ohio practically my whole life and never knew Springfield had that hidden? Wow.

I'm there with you for your spring visit.

Michael said...

You're there with me right now in my head, Beau. ;-)

I don't think most people were aware of it until recently. It's along High Street in Springfield, the old "Millionaire's Row" of Victorians and it sits right at the end in all it's Prairie glory.

RE: spring
Call me!