If you can appreciate architecture that marries the structure with its surrounding landscape, you can thank architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, who was most prolific in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, was way ahead of his time, trading in Victorian frill for simple, broad horizontal lines that reflected the flat Midwestern landscape where he was born.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. And as one of the most prolific and renowned architects of the 20th century, Wright will be celebrated coast to coast, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which will run a FLW retrospective between June 12 and October 1. For more FLW in NYC, visit the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum.
Wright designed more than 1,000 structures during his career. Fallingwater in the Laurel-Highlands region of Pennsylvania may be his most famous. Built in the 1930s for a prominent Pittsburgh, the house exemplifies Wright’s concept of the harmonious union of art and nature. Need proof? The house is dramatically cantilevered over a waterfall.
Kentuck Knob and Duncan House, Pennsylvania
Close to Fallingwater are two Wright-designed homes from the 1950s. Kentuck Knob is a home constructed of sandstone, tidewater cypress and copper that blends right into its wooded surroundings. Tours of the home and its extensive sculpture garden are available. The Duncan House, meanwhile, is a classic Wright Usonian-style home—designed as a modest, affordable single-story residence. The house was moved from Lisle, Illinois to Polymath Park, PA to join two similar homes designed by Wright apprentice Peter Berndtson. All three homes are available for overnight rental and tours.
FLW Home & Studio, Illinois
Chicago is where Wright spent the first 20 years of his career, initially studying under architecture legend Louis Sullivan. Suburban Oak Park is home to more than two dozen buildings designed by Wright, including the architect’s own home and studio, which are open for tours. There are a variety of options available for touring the area, including our favorite, Pedal Oak Park, which takes fans on a guided bike tour of 21 Wright-designed structures in the area.
Cedar Rock, Iowa
Wright was also active over the border in Iowa where he designed a home called Cedar Rock near Independence. His hand is everywhere, from the furniture he designed to the carpets, draperies and accessories he selected. Tours are offered between Memorial Day and October.
Stockman House and Historic Park Inn, Iowa
Iowa has two other Wright properties open to the public, both in Mason City. The Stockman House is his sole Prairie School home in the state, completed in 1908. Meanwhile, the Historic Park Inn Hotel—bookable right here on Orbitz—is the only remaining hotel of the six that Wright designed. While it is an operating hotel, and not a museum, there are docent-led tours to provide insight into the design and impact of Wright’s work.
Taliesin is the most notable of all of the Wright-designed structures in Wisconsin. Taliesin was Wright’s home, studio, school and laboratory. Located in Spring Green, Taliesin is acknowledged as the embodiment of Wright’s commitment to the creation of exceptional environments harmonizing architecture, art, culture and the land. Regularly-scheduled tours are available between May 1 and October 31. Not so incidentally, Taliesin West, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, served as Wright’s winter residence and lab. It’s open for tours as well and is hosting many special events this year.
SC Johnson and Wingspread, Wisconsin
Racine has another grouping of FLW-designed buildings. The SC Johnson global headquarters is home to the Wright-designed SC Johnson Research Tower, opened in 1950, and the Administration Building, opened in 1939. The latter is regarded as one of the top 25 buildings of the 20th century. Enhance the Racine experience by making a reservation to visit Wingspread, the home Wright designed for SC Johnson’s third-generation leader.
Seth Peterson Cottage, Wisconsin
The Dairy State lets visitors milk the FLW experience a bit longer with options for overnights. The Seth Peterson Cottage, located in Mirror Lake State Park, was the first Wright vacation rental in the country when it began accepting reservations 25 years ago. On the other hand, The Kinney House in Lancaster only recently opened for overnight stays. The home is still owned by the original family and the majority of the original Wright-designed furniture remains.
Penfield House, Westcott House and Weltzheimer/Johnson House, Ohio
You can also overnight with Wright in Ohio. The Penfield House near Cleveland can only be visited by those who book it for a stay.
On the other hand, The Westcott House in Springfield, OH is open for tours. Designed in 1906 and built in 1908, the house embodies Wright’s early Prairie School architectural design. It also extends Wright’s concept of relating a building to its site by means of landscaping elements like terraces, lily ponds and gardens.
The Weltzheimer/Johnson House at Oberlin College is a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian House. Designed in 1947 and completed in 1949, it stands as an expression of Wright’s answer to the demand for beautiful and affordable middle-class homes in post-World War II America.
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