S.099 – Burton J. Westcott Residence, 1340 East High Street, Springfield, Ohio
Photographed on February 21, 2010. Wright’s sole prairie house in Ohio anchors a collection of exquisite mansions in Springfield, half an hour east of Dayton. I find this house unique for several reasons. First is its inclusion of a basement – a true oddity in Wright designs. The basement looks like any other unfinished basement of the era, except for its elegant windows and doors. The entrance to the house on South Greenmount Avenue leads into a foyer which connects to the main living area via a broad grand staircase – another oddity for Wright designs. The house features the largest planters Wright ever designed, and they have become the unofficial symbol for the property. Finally, and this is meant as a compliment, the house is – with the exception of a couple rooms – devoid of furniture. While it is true that Wright designed houses around the living space, and furniture was an essential component of his work, the absence of furniture allows a visitor to appreciate the rooms themselves as a piece of architecture.
Of course, the absence of furniture was not by design. Like so many properties, this one fell on hard times after the original owner’s death, and was eventually split into apartments in the 1940s by its third owner. Even a $5.8 million restoration could not manage to bring the original furnishings back. A reproduction of the distinctive dining room furniture was commissioned (it is similar to the “room within a room” concept of the Mayer May Residence and the Robie Residence). Built-in furniture was also reproduced, although some originals do remain. My feeling, though, is that I would rather see some empty rooms than an entire house populated with reproduction furniture.
The windows are mainly plain clear glass. Some skylights, and windows over the entrance, feature basic squares in earthtones. Light fixtures (most of which are replicas) also feature this simple yet elegant design element.
Water from the roof is directed to spouts at the corners (notice the icicle on one corner). From there, the water flows into catch basins, where it is redirected and recycled. The bathroom sinks each contain a third spigot delivering soft rainwater for bathing/shampooing.
My winter-time visit did not allow a view of the reflecting pool in front of the home. Likewise, the overcast day precluded the usual play between light and shadows.
The keepers of this home credit its construction and move-in date as 1908. Prof. Storrer, however, has concluded that the home was designed in 1904 and constructed in 1905, based on local sources of information. He also notes that Taliesin’s records identify 1907 as the construction date.
Wright clearly favored this as one of his projects, including it in his German 1910 Wasmuth Portfolio (Ausgefuhrte Bauten und Entwurfe von Frank Lloyd Wright).
The home has been open for guided tours since its 2005 restoration, and features a visitor center and gift shop in the garage (S.099A). For excellent photos of the renovation, see Peter Beers’ website of FLW properties.
This decorative element was designed for the original house – but not installed.
It was added during the restoration; it contains bird houses.
Left: exterior door to basement
This 4-square motif is repeated
REAR OF HOUSE
The rear of the property is bordered by columns