A Gazetteer of Extant Buildings

  

Welcome to the Prairie School Traveler!

The seed of the PST was planted when I visited Owatonna, Minnesota, in the early 1980s to see Louis Sullivan’s seminal National Farmers’ Bank, only to discover a week later that I had missed the Adair House and Buxton Bungalow by Purcell & Elmslie nearby. Since then, I have collected information about the location of Prairie School buildings to inform future travels. In an appropriately organic way, the collected lists and photographs coalesced into a website that first appeared at the end of October, 2005.

While information I’ve gathered forms the foundation of this site, it has been transformed by gifts of information and photographs from fellow lovers of Prairie School architecture. While every contribution, no matter how small, is welcomed and appreciated, special thanks are offered on the Contributors page to those who have gone beyond the call, and become true partners in the work of presenting to the public the richness and variety of this first modern and democratic architecture.

The information on this site is offered for reference, as a help to the traveler, and as an encouragement for further research. If you have information or photos of Prairie School buildings and are willing to share, we should talk!

There are some additional resources beyond the lists and the FAQs and the previously-mentioned Contributors. Random Notes is a simple blog. RIP names some of the regrettable losses of PS buildings. The Prairie Bookshelf lists sources for some of the information on this site and offers suggestions for further reading. Not exactly a resource is The Unknowns, where we attempt to attach histories to images of PS buildings, chiefly found on postcards.

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At the beginning of the 21st century, when the generic designs of new banks, shopping malls and dental offices are being crassly described as “Prairie Style” because it sounds trendy and the buildings have a few horizontal lines, it’s good to get out and see the original stuff. If you live in the upper Midwest, chances are you won’t have to travel far. And if you don’t live in the upper Midwest, you may be surprised how close some Prairie School buildings are!

An Important Note for Travelers
Most Prairie School buildings are private property. The fact that they are listed here is not an invitation to trespass. Please respect the rights and privacy of the owners. If you wish to visit, write to the owner before your trip; addresses are given for virtually every structure. Many owners are aware of the significance of their property and are happy to share with like-minded individuals.

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Welcome screen photograph of the
J.S. Ulland House, Fergus Falls, Minnesota
courtesy of and © 2007 by Thomas P. Shearer.

  

 

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