Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright House

This post is dedicated to my son-in-law, Danilo, and to those who appreciate architects and the magnificent buildings they design. Danilo has a doctorate degree in architecture and worked in that field for several years before becoming an educator. On July 16th and we started on our road trip, traveling east across Ohio. Danilo asked if we were going by Oberlin as he wanted to stop by the college and check out some of the buildings designed by an arititect he was familiar with. To my surprise, his request did not included a house I knew for sure he wouldn't want to miss, one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Since we were heading right by that exit on the highway, there was no problem in pulling off and heading for the university. Boy, I did have a surprise to tell him about.

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the world's most prominent and influential architects and to this day he remains America's most famous architect and a favorite of Danilo's. Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural career spanned seventy-five years. By the time he died, he had created 1,141 designs, of which 532 were completed. Fifty years after his death, Frank Lloyd Wright continues to be recognized as the greatest architect of the Twentieth Century.

The Weltzheimer/Johnson House, located in Oberlin, Ohio, is a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian House designed in 1948 and completed in 1950. It sits well back from the street on a three-acre lot. While the home was being built, design changes and problems increased the budget from $15,000 to over $50,000. This was the first of nine Usonian homes to be built in Ohio and has all of the typical features of the Usonian style: a flowing floor plan with distinct public and private wings; concrete, grid patterned slab floor with radiant heat; flat roof and cantilevered carport; masonry fireplace; board and batten walls with simple built-in furniture; and tall glass walls; and doors opening to the landscape.

The Weltzheimer/Johnson House has several distinctive features, including the hundreds of stained croquet balls forming the roof. It is the only Usonian built outside California that used redwood in its construction.

The Weltzheimer family lived in the house until 1963, when the property was sold to developers. In 1968, Art History Professor Ellen H. Johnson purchased the home and began restoring the house. When she died in 1992 the house was given to Oberlin College to serve as a guest house for the Art Department and the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Knowing that the house was open to the public, we stopped a local person and asked for directions. The smiles on our faces soon faded as we were told that the house was closed today as tours were not given on Mondays. She did suggest that we drive over and we could walk around outside and peek in the windows. This news was little disappointing, OK really disappointing--so close and yet so far--but we decided that if we couldn't get inside we would settle for a walk around the property, and headed to the house. I let everyone out at the street and we were all awed as we looked at the beautiful house positioned at the back of the lot. I drove the van around the block and parked in the driveway and waited for the gang to catch up to me.

While parking in the driveway I noticed that a car was there and wondered if I was at the right place or sitting in someone's private driveway. A short time passed and I saw my three traveling buddies walking up toward the house. With big smiles on our faces we stood outside of the house and started taking pictures. After taking pictures outside and walking around awhile I decided to knock on the door, thinking that the owner of the parked car might be inside. As luck would have it the curator was inside showing the house to a man from Texas who had scheduled this visit with the curator. She graciously invited us in! We put special coverings over our shoes to protect the floors and were invited to have free run of the house, taking pictures of anything we wanted, visiting all rooms, and when we were done, she said, she would answer any questions we might have. It doesn't get anybetter than this!

The L-shaped home features an open main living/dining area separated from an adjoining kitchen by narrow brick pillars.

Three small bedrooms and a corner studio are accessed from a gallery hallway.

Standing in the hallway leading to the bedrooms.

Sitting in one of the three bedrooms in the house.

Looking into a mirror in the master bedroom; notice the built-in dresser on the wall.

Cyndi and Danilo in the master bedroom.

My family and I want to give a special thank you to Palli Davis, curator of the Weltzheimer/Johnson House in Oberlin, OH, for letting us visit the Frank Lloyd House. Never in a hurry for us to leave, she answered all of our questions and offered information on where we might visit other homes. Knowing we needed to leave this beautiful home, we slowly walked out, hardly believing that the last few hours were spent in a home we didn't think we would get to see. In our appreciation a donation was made by both of our families; this goes to the preservation of the house.

For those who are interested in a visit or would like to make a donation, the Weltzheimer/Johnson House holds a public 'Open House' on the first and third Sundays of each month, from 12 pm until 5 pm. It is closed on major holidays-New Year's Day, Easter, Independence Day, and Christmas.

Admission is $5.00 per person. For further information, program dates, or to schedule a tour, call 1-440.775.5999 or email Palli Davis Holubar (wj.house@oberlin.edu).

Visit web site: http://www.oberlin.edu/amam/flwright.html


Cynthia Rae said...

Wow! Looks like you did your research! Danilo had such a wonderful time and will always remember the day he got to hang out in a FLW house. Thanks so much.


Anonymous said...

Ohhhh !! and they say that mothers-in law are untrustable!!! .-)
well guys, I just got a mother-in-love and I am aware of that!

cheesy Frank LloyD Dan

amerimom said...

Cyndi-I am so glad that our day in Oberlin worked out so well. It made me really happy to show Danilo something that I knew he would truly appreciate. He is such a wonderful host when we are in Italy. Our country, since it is new, cannot compare with the sites in Italy. One thing the Americans can say is that you won't find a Frank Lloyd Wright house over there.

Dan-so glad we got into the FLW house. Not too many of his homes are open to the public, let alone having the chance to spend as much time in there as we wanted. I am so glad that you recognize what a wonderful (ha) mother-in-love that you have. It is easy to be a good mom-in-love with such a great guy that stole Cyndi's heart. Plan your next trip and we will hit up the next closest FLW house that is open to the public and head on out again!

Texas Espresso said...

That is so cool! I would love to visit several of his homes and how sweet that curator was. Thanks so much for the post - it was so interesting!

Sassy Cat said...
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amerimom said...

texas espresso so glad you enjoyed my post. I hope you are able to see some FLW houses. Until Cyndi and Danilo shared their interests in architect and FLW we, believe it or not, didn't know anything about him. We now are finding ourselves looking at his work in awe. Get on line and see if any of his houses designed by him are near you and take a road trip.