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S.072 – Dana-Thomas Residence

301 East Lawrence Avenue, Springfield, Illinois

 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

 

Whatever you have heard about this property, you have not heard enough.  This is one of Wright’s true masterpieces, built for a client who did not see money as an obstacle.  Early experimentation abounds, as does some level of client-inspired compromise that Wright would have unceremoniously rejected in later years (curtains and a room of Victorian furnishings, for example).  The house is now owned by the State of Illinois and is worth every penny of the $10 tour.

 

Susan Lawrence Dana grew up in a politically savvy family.  Her father was the school board president in Springfield, and also served as mayor.  Being the state capital, the Lawrence home saw numerous political gatherings over the years.

 

After the deaths of her father and her husband left her widowed and wealthy, Susan decided to graft onto the existing family home and build a residence that would serve as home to her cousin Flora, Susan, and her mother as well as a grand banquet center for entertaining guests.  In the end, the house cost $60,000 at a time when the average house cost about $4000.  It featured 35 rooms on 15 different levels in 12,000 square feet, with multiple indoor and outdoor balconies for bands to entertain guests.

 

More than 250 examples of Wright’s glass are included, along with more than 100 pieces of original furniture.  Most of the furnishings remained with the house when Charles C. Thomas purchased the house and operated his medical publishing offices there, although an auction during Susan’s incapacitation allowed some furnishings to escape.  The extraordinary preservation of furnishings and the home during the Thomas years led the state to honor Thomas by adding his name.  Additional efforts were undertaken to repatriate as many as possible when the State of Illinois acquired the house. 

 

Richard Bock contributed many designs for trim and sculptures, including a distinctive indoor fountain (the “Moon Children” Fountain).

 

Photographed on July 31 and August 1, 2014, and ^May 22, 2016.

 

Opus: T9905

 

Tourist information literature (PDF)

 

 

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Original hitching ring for horses on Lawrence Avenue (named after the family)

 

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The ornate trim is made of plaster, painted to resemble copper;

I am sure Wright’s design was inspired by Sullivan’s work

 

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Inside the courtyard

 

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Left: fish pond in courtyard

 

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View of state capitol through back wall

 

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How close is the house to the railroad tracks?  This close:

 

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Model of house for sight-impaired guests

On display in basement of the house

 

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Area signage:

 

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CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES OF STABLE REMODELING & COTTAGE

New 08/17/2014

Revised 05/28/2016

 

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