Preserving Wright's Westcott House
by Matt Cline
In 1907, a house began to take shape on High Street in Springfield, Ohio. Local residents referred to it as a monstrosity. Some thought it to be such a bizarre design for a residential neighborhood, it was mistaken for a sanitarium or hospital.
Now, almost 100 years later, the other mansions that adorn High Street all seem to blend together, and the unique wood-and-stucco house that once received ridicule is the subject of international attention for its architect, its history, and its rescue.
When Burton and Orpha Westcott hired Frank Lloyd Wright, they could never have imagined the attention and high regard their house would have in the early 21st century. Although Wright later designed several Usonian buildings in Ohio, the Westcott House (S.099) in Springfield is his only prairie-style house in the state.
The first house Wright designed for the Westcott family was never built, for reasons unknown. The house built in 1907 was his second design and most likely an outcome of his 1905 trip to Japan. Many aspects of the house resemble those of a Japanese Shinto temple.
These included small divided-light windows reminiscent of a shoji screen, clay tiles on a low-hipped roof, and open sleeping porches on the second floor. Drawings of a proposed lighting fixture for the pergola had text describing a "Japanese lantern in which light is to be suspended when used."
The design also included a separate building for automobiles, horses, and a groundskeeper's quarters. Mr. Westcott was the successful manufacturer of a luxury touring car whose popularity until the mid -1920s enabled the family to build a grand home in the fashionable industrialist's section of Springfield.
The south facade of Frank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House in Springfield, Ohio, currently undergoing restoration.
Photo: Westcott House Foundation
The south facade as seen from the yard.
Photo: Matt Cline
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