SULLIVAN, Louis Henry
(b. 1856, Boston, d. 1924, Chicago)

Harold C. Bradley House

1909
Photo
106 North Prospect Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin

During the period when Sullivan designed banks (the "jewel boxes") in small towns in the Midwest, he also designed the Van Allen Building (1912-14), Clinton, Iowa, and two large houses, the Babson House (1907; destroyed), Riverside, Illinois, and the Bradley House (1909), Madison, Wisconsin.

The Bradley House was one of Sullivan's last residential commissions and a prime example of Prairie School design. Prairie School was a late 19th- and early 20th-century architectural style with roots in Chicago. The style, popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, Sullivan's student, was most common in the Midwest, but its influence was felt around the globe.

The Prairie School style integrates with the surrounding landscape. Horizontal lines of the design are meant to join with the native prairie. Flat or hip roofs have broad eaves, windows are assembled in horizontal bands, construction and craftsmanship are solid, and decorative elements are restrained.

Sullivan designed the Bradley House in collaboration with George Grant Elmslie (1871-1952), who joined the architectural partnership of Adler & Sullivan in 1888. Following the dismissal of Frank Lloyd Wright from the firm, and especially once the partnership dissolved, Elmslie's role under Louis Sullivan increased. The Bradley House was designed at a time when Sullivan's architectural practice was starting to fail. Once considered the foremost designer of skyscrapers, Sullivan now struggled to secure commissions and often sparred with clients. All drawings of the Bradley House were sketched by Elmslie; many of the architectural details are consistent with the style he would develop later in his career with William Gray Purcell.