We have walked up to the summit of Whiteface Mountain just outside of Lake Placid, N.Y. in the Adirondacks. Reaching the top it was barely 50° out when it was 80° at the mountain’s base. Seeing the summit buildings, they looked like a moon or Mars base. The dome shaped building had a lead roof and all stone structure with a large stone fireplace. That fireplace was shut down after they found it was altering the temp data at the weather station next door. The taller two story building was the active weather station at about 5,000 feet elevation. The weather up here is unbelievably harsh in the Winter.
In 1902, in Springfield, Illinois work began on the Dana House by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was a very large lot just South of the Governor’s mansion downtown, but they had structures blocking progress. The largest was the two story Victorian house that had belonged to Mr Lawrence (Mrs Dana’s Father). This structure was mostly demolished with only a small portion incorporated into the new house at the request of Mrs Dana. The other obstruction was the large two story cottage at the West end of the property. This was a wood structure with a chimney and was picked up and moved across the railroad tracks and road to the lot next door. This cottage still exists today:
Even the Carriage house at the back of the Dana House property in Springfield, Illinois was ornamented. Notice the top copper cornice on the barn has the upturned end parts that appear to turn up to the sky. This carriage house is right out on the back road and railroad tracks.
One of the consistent decorative elements at the Dana House by Frank Lloyd Wright in Springfield, Illinois was the large stone urns. They capped many of the walls and accented the house with their rounded shapes. They were a massive 4 feet in diameter and used for different functions, mostly flowers.
They sat on top of the cream colored brick walls at various locations.
Here at the Dana House by Frank Lloyd Wright in Springfield, Illinois, we are looking up at the corner of the house at the top. The copper crowns and gutters point out and up but are actually horizontal. The long narrow cream colored bricks, 12″ x 2″, can be seen. The painted capstones are superfine concrete, not sandstone that they resemble.
The most unusual and amazing feature is the frieze or patterned green area below the eves and extending down 4-6 feet. These are heavily textured plaster tiles that make a unique pattern designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. They have 10 layers of metallic glazes that mimic the verdigris (greenish blue) of weathered copper.
Much of this frieze was damaged and broken off before or during the time the Thomas Corp had the building and it was taken down and covered with plywood. After giving the house to the State it was decided to replace the tiled frieze. The original molds were found and the company found but all the workers that knew how to do this type of work had long retired. When the retired workers heard about the Frank Lloyd Wright Dana house, many “Un-retired”, walked back into their old factory and worked on the tiles and made a whole new set for the house. They are spectacular and real.
While in Springfield, Illinois we had to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Dana Thomas House. This house was built for Susie Dana in 1902 which means it predates the Darwin Martin house in Buffalo by 5 years. This house is situated right downtown Springfield two blocks from the governor’s mansion and right up against the railroad tracks. Susie Dana commissioned and had the house built by the new and upcoming architect Frank Lloyd Wright using her fathers vast fortune after he died. He made much of his money on railroad ventures so they were not against building near this active track.
The house occupied several blocks of land and totaled 10,900 square feet, huge even by today’s standards. It wrapped around and kept partially intact part of her father’s old Victorian house on the site but most of it was demolished. Another house/cottage on site was moved intact across the tracks which we will see later.
This house incorporates many of the new elements of Wright’s style including horizontal lines, a base in light horizontal bricks, lots of Art Glass windows and copper gutters and copper fascias and frieze boards. Also present were the huge decorative stone or cement urns that would reappear in a different shape at the Darwin Martin house later.
This house had the most FLW Art Glass windows of any Frank Lloyd Wright house in the world and has most of its original FLW designed lighting fuxtures and furniture.