WRIGHT, Frank Lloyd
(b. 1867, Richland Center, d. 1959, Phoenix)

Frank W. Thomas House

1901
Photo
210 Forest Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois

The Frank Thomas House was the first of Wright's mature Prairie-style residences constructed in Oak Park. In his description of the house, Wright evoked the organic unity of a blossoming flower to suggest the complexity with which the structural components were integrated as a cohesive whole. Nature served as a continual source of inspiration.

The residence features an L-shaped plan, and Wright employs a variety of design innovations to harmonize its two wings and upper and lower stories. Wright emphasizes the structure's horizontal planes and visually connects distinct architectural volumes through the use of ribbon windows and dark stringcourses. In his design of the house, Wright abandons the traditional structure elevating the basement to ground level and raising the living quarters in order to increase privacy. The main entrance of the house is accessed indirectly through an elaborate arrangement of passageways - a walled walk leads to a dramatic archway, just beyond and to the left of which are stairs that wind back and forth to the expansive terrace and entrance. Beaded moulding and geometric ornament in the woodwork, as well as the abstracted floral motifs that appear in the leaded glass doors and casement windows, reinforce Wright's analogy between the house and a natural organism.

By Wright's own definition, this was the first of the Prairie houses - the rooms are elevated, and there is no basement. The house also includes many of the features which became associated with the style, such as a low roof with broad overhangs, casement windows, built-in shelves and cabinets, ornate leaded glass windows and central hearths/fireplaces.

View the plans of the main floor and the bedroom floor of the building.