The annual Wright Plus housewalk is back May 20 and will feature eight private homes, including a few that have never been shared on Wright Plus in the past.
The Dale and Eva Bumstead House was designed by Tallmadge and Watson in 1909. The Prairie Style home has an interesting history according to Joan Pantsios, co-chair of this year’s walk.
“The Bumsteads’ son went to school with Ernest Hemingway, and they were big game hunters,” Pantsios said. “They decorated the home with a lot of trophies from their hunting.”
When it was built, there were large oak trees all around the house, and they were used as a theme in the home’s stained glass.
The Edward and Annie Cronwall House was designed in 1909 by Jeremiah Kiersted Cady. Sue Blaine, co-chair of the walk, notes that the house is a good example of the different types of architecture that were popular at the same time the Prairie Style was becoming favored by other architects. She calls the house’s style French Normandy.
“The Cronwalls were very, very wealthy,” Blaine said. “There were servant living quarters on every floor, and an apartment over the garage for additional help.”
This is the home’s first time on Wright Plus, and Blaine and Pantsios think attendees will enjoy seeing the woodwork as well as decorative touches like a kitchen that is respectful to the past and hand-painted “wallpaper” in the entry.
The Rollin and Elizabeth Furbeck Home was by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1897. Blaine says this house is fun to view in connection to Wright’s Home and Studio, which he designed in the Shingle Style in 1889, the Thomas and Laura Gale House, which he designed in 1892 and the Heurtley House, which he designed in 1902.
“One of those things that is fun about the Wrights is that you can see how he progresses,” Blaine said.
She points out that Wright experiments with cantilevering in the house, and he included a bit of an inglenook in the home as well.
“The house has a verticality to it that we don’t really associate with Wright, but you can see the horizontality coming into play,” Pantsios said.
The Thomas and Laura Gale House was designed by Wright in 1892. Blaine says the house shows the beginning of Wright’s transition from a very traditional style to his Prairie Style. He began to experiment with a more open floor plan.
Like all of the homes on the walk, the kitchens and baths here are the rooms most altered from the original. Blaine notes that the original kitchen is now a family room, and a new kitchen is very sympathetic to Wright’s style while being much more functional for how people live today.
The Arthur and Grace Heurtley House is considered one of Wright’s earliest Prairie Style designs, from 1902. The Heurtleys lived in the home until they sold it in 1920 to Andrew Porter and Jane Porter, who was Frank Lloyd Wright’s sister.
In 1935, the home was converted to a two-flat. Later owners included anthropology professor Jack Prost who purchased the home for $90,000 in 1973 and lamented not making enough money to maintain the home and the property taxes. He sold the home in 1997 for $750,000 to a young couple who restored the home back to its single-family status.
Longtime Frank Lloyd Wright Trust volunteer Jack Lesniak is a house captain and researcher for the home and has volunteered in the home on Wright Plus housewalks in 1978, 1998 and 2002.
His research was aided by Allen Heurtley, great grandson of the original owners, who shared many photographs and stories of the home and who will be attending this year’s walk.
The Maurice and Lillian Lowrey House is believed to have been built around 1891. The Queen Anne Style house is making its Wright Plus debut. The architect of the home is unknown, but Blaine and Pantsios note that Lowrey was a contractor, and it is possible he designed the home himself.
The home was built as a single-family residence, but the Lowreys never moved in. They rented the house before selling it. The home then became an apartment house and a boarding house. Previous owners returned the home to a single-family residence, keeping the second-floor kitchen cabinetry and reusing it as bedroom storage.
The home of architect E.E. Roberts and his wife Rossie, built in 1870 and remodeled by Roberts in 1911, is another example of work done in the area by a Wright contemporary. Blaine and Pantsios state that while Robert’s work on the home from the front is hard to discern, it is easy to see an addition from the rear.
Blaine calls Roberts’ woodwork on the interior fabulous and says it’s nice to juxtapose the interior of this house with works by Wright around the same time.
Roberts also designed the 1908 Charles and Alma Schwerin House. The house has many Prairie elements with its overhanging eaves, hipped roof and ribbon windows. There are 88 stained-glass windows in the home.
Pantsios recalls a story that she calls “serendipitous.” The current owners have two Bernese mountain dogs. Through a photo of their dogs taken on their front porch in a newsletter dedicated to the breed, they were connected to the grandchild of the Schwerins, who returned the dining room’s original light fixture to the couple. It now hangs in the dining room.
Blaine notes that this year’s houses are a good glimpse into the thought process that goes into Wright Plus every year.
“We start with the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and then we see what architectural note is in the same geographical vicinity,” Blaine said. “Then, we think about the story we want to tell.
“This year, we had a fair amount of Prairie, and then we looked at what else was popular at the time that Wright was working, and how, or if, Wright influenced the work of others.”
Tickets, including Fast Pass, Ultimate Plus Saturday and Ultimate Plus Weekend are completely sold out.
Tickets for Wright Plus 2024, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust and the 135th anniversary of the Home and Studio building will be available to the public in early 2024.