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:
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.
The Dana Thomas House was actually known to Frank Lloyd Wright as the Dana House after Susie Dana the heiress of the Lawrence estate. The Thomas name came in when a company by that name bought the house later in the 20th century and then donated it.
The grand entrance to the house is very atypical for Frank Lloyd Wright as most of his houses have hidden and small entrances. Mrs Dana specifically wished for a grand entrance directly off of the street in which to greet her many guests at her many parties and functions. This entrance is a series of concentric arches ending in the arch of the door and the glass arch it contains.
You can see the cream colored thin 12″x 2″ brick used in the walls and arches. The grout was struck out only horizontally to add to their narriw effect. The upper arch had a fancy canvas canopy reaching out to the street that was added later by Mrs Dana.
Above the doorway you can see the vertical columns, windows, copper colored frieze and copper crown and gutters. The roof is highly canteleuvered here and especially on the other side. This copper cornice appears to swing upwards at the ends like a Japanese pagoda, but in fact is actually horizontal being an optical illusion Mr Wright created.
An oblique view if the entrance sjowi g the abrupt upturns of the crown and copper gutter ends.
Downtown Springfield, Illinois just a few blocks from the Old State Capitol Building, sits the original Abraham Lincoln House on its original place. This four block area is now preserved as a National Historic area with Rangers giving tours. This house us restored to the condition it was as of about 1860 complete with the second story railing put up by Lincoln to keep his kids out of mischief.
His boy’s bedroom was on this second floor and they used to go out on the roof.
A famous painting of the house in 1860:
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This a view of the Garage/Apartment area of the Greycliff Estate by Frank Lloyd Wright on Lake Erie South of Buffalo. This section was connected to the main part of the house by a few walls that were at a right angle. They made an “apartment” over the three car garage/ carriage house there that was bigger than most people’s homes. In this one area, Isabelle Martin allowed Frank Lloyd Wright to be more himself and use cantilevered overhangs and wide horizontal eves as he normally did. This Foster House, where the daughter and son in law of the Martins lived, is therefore more typical of Frank Lloyd Wright. I will show several views from different angles so you can see the soaring roofs and wide eves and cantilevered balconies not really present in the Main Greycliff house section:
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As we walk around in the house at the Greycliff Estate by Frank Lloyd Wright South of Buffalo, NY, we go up the stairs to the second floor. At the top of the stairs we encounter the only instance of “Art Glass” allowed by Mrs Isabelle Martin in the house. She had specified with Mr Wright that there be no fancy Art Glass windows and that the house should have a lot more natural light than the Darwin Martin House they had in Buffalo. This window is the most famous in the house with its customized angles of both the window and the frame and ceiling. No small bits of colored glass was allowed.
Outside you can see the typical red roofs on all the house. These appear to be red tile, but are actually red painted wood shingles as was specified. This was a huge cost savings over the Darwin Martin house which had real and very expensive and heavy red tile roofs.
At one end of the Main House at The Greycliff Estate designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, there was a nice very bright and open Solarium Room. Here the windows were especially big, tall and low to let in light. There were living plants lining the windows.
Inside, you can see the dimly lit interior contrasted with the sunshine coming in.
You can see right out onto Lake Erie from way up on the cliff top.