Frank W. Thomas House


Frank Thomas House

Date: 1901
Address: 210 Forest Ave., Oak Park, Illinois
City: Oak Park, Illinois
Accessibility: Private
Category: Residential

The Frank W. 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, and Wright stated that the Thomas house, “flare[s] outward, opening like a flower to the sky.”

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 string courses. 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 molding 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.

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