Frank Lloyd Wright Usoian House

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”–Frank Lloyd Wright

I am such an art geek and I love it.

I have always had an interest in art since I was a little girl. My mom has this slate painting I did when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old still hanging up in their back porch. It’s a simple painting of a butterfly with a rainbow but I remember being so proud of it and excited to give it to her for her birthday. In high school I took design classes where I learned the fundamentals of composition, shapes, layout and color, all of which really sparked my interest in a serious way for taking it to the next level in college. I took a variety of studio art and art history classes and then pursued the creative arts for a career. I had even once considered going back for more schooling to become an art teacher or a museum curator…but maybe in another phase of my life!

Frank Lloyd Wright

wright-homeThat’s why when I saw an Open House at the Frank Lloyd Usoian House located in Oberlin for this afternoon, I dropped all of our plans and made sure we were there.

I remember from my American Art History course that Frank was a man who loved nature and was considered a pioneer in organic architect, which took into account the natural environment when designing a structure to create harmony and peace. He was also the leader of the Prairie School movement, which is mostly a Midwestern style that is characterized by the emphasis on horizontal lines, flat roofs, natural landscape harmony, solid construction and ornate craftsmanship.  He designed over 1000 plans for homes, offices, churches, schools and skyscrapers and it just so happens that we have one of his treasures just 10 minutes away from us!

The Weltzheimer/Johnson House

Designed in 1947 and completed in 1949 for the Charles Weltzheimer family, The Weltzheimer/Johnson House is the first Usonian house in Ohio and one of the few in the nation that is opened to the public. It was sold to Ellen Johnson in 1970, who was an art professor at Oberlin College and she spent much time restoring it to it’s original glory. She lived in the home until 1992 when she pass away, and bequeathed the home to the college in her will.

There was a short presentation during the open house and it was so evident how much he embraced the location and surrounding natural elements. It used 4 principle materials: concrete, brick wood and glass and the house was characterized by floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that connected the inside to the outdoors. The word “usonian” was actually coined by Frank to refer to the planning of urban cities and the architecture of buildings across the American landscape. The structures were usual “L” shaped to surround an outdoor garden or living space and used as many native materials as possible.

I enjoyed every minute of the tour, getting a peak into the mind of an architectural genius and walking through a piece of American  art history. Open houses to the public start back up in April 2014 and this local gem is definitely something to see! For more information, visit the Allen Memorial Art Museum website here >>

Okay, the Sunday art lesson is officially over… 🙂

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