[Masthead] Fair ~ 63°F  
High: 65°F ~ Low: 43°F
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

TRAVEL IOWA - Frank Lloyd Wright's Iowa architecture legacy

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

A renewed appreciation for the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright is causing travelers to seek out examples of his work. Wright was born in Wisconsin and designed many buildings in the Midwest.

His first tie to Iowa came as a small child, when his family lived in McGregor, Iowa for a short time. As a young artist, he first found success in the firm headed by Louis Sullivan, the famous Chicago architect who designed the Van Allen building in Clinton and the famous "jewel box" bank in Grinnell. Wright went on to become this country's most renowned architect, with a career that spanned nearly 75 years.

Mason City claims the strongest connection to Frank Lloyd Wright of any Iowa community. The last remaining hotel in the world designed by Wright, the Park Inn, is undergoing restoration in downtown Mason City. An adjacent bank building, also designed by Wright, is home to City National Bank. Both buildings were opened in 1910.

While Wright was in Mason City planning the two commercial buildings, he was commissioned to design a home for George and Eleanor Stockman. This modest two-story Prairie School home, known as the Stockman House, was built in 1908 and is open for public tours.

The Prairie School influence is evident in Mason City's Rock Crest/Rock Glen National Historic District. This wooded neighborhood along a winding creek features six houses designed by Walter Burley Griffin and one by William Drummond; both men worked in Frank Lloyd Wright's studio before embarking on independent careers. One of their assistants, Barry Byne, also designed a home in the area.

A wooded hill overlooking the Wapsipinicon River near Quasqueton, Iowa is the site of Cedar Rock, a Usonian home Wright designed for Lowell and Agnes Walter. The architect was given free rein with his design - he created the furniture, selected the carpet and draperies, and even picked out decorative accessories for the home. Completed in 1950, Cedar Rock is one of only a few residences that bears one of the architect's signature tiles, imbedded in a brick exterior wall. He also designed the entry gate, an outdoor fire circle and two-level boathouse on the site. Cedar Rock is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and is open for public tours.

Wright designed several other Iowa homes in the 1940s and 1950s, which are privately owned and not open to the public. They are located in Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Oskaloosa, Marshalltown and Des Moines.

Learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright's influence on architecture in Iowa by requesting a copy of the Iowa Travel Guide at 800-345-IOWA or www.traveliowa.com.