City: University Heights, Darby, Montana
Restoration status: Mostly demolished between 1930-45
Wright earned the commission for the Como Orchards Summer Colony after designing a vacation home for Frederick Nichols in 1906. Nichols worked for the Bitter Root Valley Irrigation Company, an agricultural business that sought to expand the distribution of water to farmland in rural Darby, Montana. After the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad, which connected Chicago to the country’s Western states, the company undertook a number of development projects to enhance the land, including the construction of the Big Ditch Canal and Lake Como Dam, as well as a summer colony marketed to educated professionals from Chicago. The business commissioned Wright to plan the vacation retreat and a series of buildings, including a clubhouse, over fifty-three cottages, and administration building. All of the buildings were of board-and-batten construction. The cottages were simple two- or three-bedroom structures designed for camping in the summer. Only twelve were constructed, and the project ultimately failed due to poor weather conditions and unreliable shipping to the area. The abandoned land office and a single three-bedroom cottage are the only remaining sites.