GUEST BLOG / By Robin Opsahl, Home & Garden reporter, Des Moines Register--Iowa is home to 11 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings. Here's where to find them. For the purposes of this blog, coverage is in two segments: public tours and no tours. CLICK HERE for the complete article.
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Wisconsin and lived much of his life in Illinois, so he had a deep connection to the Midwest. America's best-known architect, Wright designed more than 1,000 buildings throughout his career, many in the region he called home, including 11 in Iowa.
For those looking to take in the artistry of Wright's creations, here's where to find them in Iowa. (But take note: some of the buildings offer tours and host historical events throughout the year but others are private residences.)
George Stockman House 1908
Location: 530 1st St., Mason City
Tours contact: www.stockmanhouse.org/stockman-house-tour
History: The Stockman House, above, is currently operated by the River City Society for Historic Preservation after the building faced an ultimatum from Mason City in 1987: move or get demolished. The RCSHP rallied to preserve the Wright house, and with the help of grants, donors and community volunteers, was given the property by the city and moved it to a new location north of the Rock Glen Historic District. The house first opened for public tours after restoration in 1992, which continue year-round.
City National Bank and Hotel 1909
The Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City is the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel remaining in Iowa. See end of this blog for another Wright-designed hotel in U.S.
Location: 5 West State St., Mason City
History: The City National Bank and Hotel overlooks the city's central park; alongside the hotel, it hosts space for a former bank and law offices, and is home to "Spirit of Mercury," a statue by sculptor Richard Bock. The building was set for demolition, but in 2005 a group of citizens formed the "Wright on the Park" nonprofit to own and restore the historic building. In 2011, Stoney Creek Hotels opened the Historic Park Inn, restoring City National Bank and Hotel to its original purpose. Find out more: www.wrightonthepark.org
Delbert Meier House 1917
|Casa Leone Photography|
The Meier House was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's first forays into prefabricated structures. Location: 402 North Page, Monona
History: The Meier house was one of Wright's first forays into prefabricated buildings; many parts of the Monona home were originally constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before its assembly onsite. The couple who now owns the home run a website called "This American House" which documents the renovation and restoration of the Wright building and wrote a book about the architectural era it came from, titled "This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meier House and the American System-Built Homes."
Lowell Walter House 1945
Cedar Rock, the Lowell and Agnes Walter home, above, was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1948-1950, in Quasqueton, Iowa overlooking the Wapsipinicon River in Buchanan County.
Location: Cedar Rock Park, Quasqueton
History: Original owners Lowell and Agnes Walter contacted Wright to build their home in rural Iowa after retiring from the Iowa Road Building Company, which they sold to their employees. The Walters lived in the home for over 30 years, but because they had no children, decided to donate the historic home to the people of Iowa. Agnes Walter donated the house to the Iowa Conservation Commission in 1982. The Walters said they wanted the home to be a "symbol of how big dreams can be attained when they are fueled by hard work" for guests and visitors, according to the Cedar Rock website. Wright also designed a boathouse and pavilion with materials that match the house.
ALAS, NO TOURS.
Paul Trier House 1957
The Trier House in Johnston was modeled after one of Wright's exhibition houses built on-site at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Location: 6880 NW Beaver Dr., Johnston
History: On the edge of the Des Moines River, Paul and Ida Trier commissioned Wright to build their house, modeled after an exhibition house built onsite at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The Johnston home was the last house Wright built in Iowa.
Robert Sunday House, 1955
The Sunday House in Marshalltown is believed to be one of the final brick homes architect Frank Lloyd Wright ever designed. Location: 1701 Woodfield Dr., Marshalltown
History: Robert Sunday, who owned Marshall Lumber in Marshalltown, acted as his own contractor to construct the Wright house, which is now believed to be the last of its kind created in brick, according to the National Register of Historic Places. The home was expanded in 1970 to include a family room, terrace, and dining room. The addition was designed by a Wright assistant, architect Jack Howe, to match the house's original design.
Alvin Miller House 1946
The Miller House in Charles City was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Location: 1107 Court St., Charles City
History: On the banks of the Cedar River, the Alvin Miller house was originally built for the home's namesake and his wife, Inez Miller. Wright's plans initially called for a connected dental office where Miller, a dentist, would practice alongside his son, William Miller, and an additional residence for his son's family.
These plans were canceled because of disagreements between the architect and residents, but a dental clinic was eventually added in 1996 by later owners who hired Taliesin Associated Architects, an architectural firm Wright founded, as consultants.
Find out more: www.alvinmillerhouse.com
Carroll Alsop House 1948
Location: 1907 A Ave. East, Oskaloosa
History: The Alsop house is one of a pair in Oskaloosa; the Alsop and neighboring Lamberson families both asked Wright to design homes for them in 1947. The home was completed in 1951 and still features multiple pieces of Wright-designed furniture, including multiple dining tables and chairs.
The red brick home is currently for sale, but is not on the market: the seller is entertaining bids over $450,000. Find out more: www.savewright.org/building/alsop-house/
Douglas Grant House 1946
Location: 3400 Adel Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids
History: Built on a hillside on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, the Douglas Grant house was constructed using limestone the Grants mined from the property. Donna Grant Riley, daughter of Douglas and Jackie Grant, wrote a book titled "An American Proceeding: Building the Grant House with Frank Lloyd Wright" about her experience growing up in the house and watching her parents personally work to bring the architect's vision to life.
Jack Lamberson House 1948
Location: 511 North Park Ave., Oskaloosa History: The neighbor to Oskaloosa's other Wright home, the Alsop House, the Lamberson House finished construction in 1947. The house, still used as a private residence, sits on a hill and contains unique features, including its "extensive use of 60- and 120-degree angles," according to its file in the National Register of Historic Places.
NOT IN IOWA BUT IT’S ALL WRIGHT
At 6th & Dewey Sts. in Bartlesville, OK (oil country) Harold Price in 1952 commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build what is now an iconic 19-story skyscraper. Called Price Tower, it is one of 10 Frank Lloyd Wright structures included in the World Heritage List. The top seven floors operate as the Inn at Price Tower, one of the Historic Hotels of America's top 25 list. Best to plan way ahead to secure a room at 1-800-678-8946. Interiors were remodeled ala Wright by designer Wendy Evans Joseph.