Random Notes - A Blog


27 February 2006
The incredible quantity of material graciously sent by Phillip Pecord has caused me to re-think the organization of the lists on this site. When I had only two or three buildings in each town, it made sense to alphabetize them by the name of the structure. As the quantity of PS buildings in some cities is revealed, such an organization makes less sense than arrangement by street address, which is friendlier to the traveler. Accordingly, I am making this change, beginning with La Crosse, Wisconsin. Separate pages will be given to cities with more than a couple dozen entries, such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Madison, Oak Park, River Forest and Evanston. Chicago likewise will probably eventually be divided into geographic regions, mirroring Phillip’s lists.

Phillip’s material is slowly being incorporated. The occasional visitor will notice new states (and countries!) added to the navigation links below, and many buildings have been added within existing state lists. Since Phillip’s lists also have notes of demolished structures, I intend to combine his notes and mine in an RIP page.

16 February 2006
I assembled pages for Arizona tonight, based on the list contributed by Phillip Pecord. So far the state list is a chronicle of architect Henry Charles Trost’s Sullivanesque experiments in Tucson. Trost, perhaps the most prolific architect in the American Southwest, adopted a variety of picturesque and revival styles to suit his clients, but it is telling that his own home in El Paso, Texas is in full Wright mode.

10 February 2006
One of the most rewarding aspects of this website is meeting, if only virtually, other like-minded individuals. Most have sent information about some buildings previously unknown to me. Yesterday, however, I received a stupendous gift from Phillip Pecord, who has been collecting information about PS buildings for three decades. His lists of buildings across this country and, indeed, overseas, make my lists here look paltry. I will be adding his contributions over the next weeks (and months, probably!), after which the goal must be the collection of photographs for all these new additions. Sorry to drop into broken record mode, but your contributions are always welcome, whether a list of buildings or a single photograph.

7 February 2006
Louis Sullivan, the spiritual godfather of the Prairie School, is ignored on the Web. Pages upon pages are devoted to even the most insignificant work of his protégé, Frank Lloyd Wright, while the landmark works of Wright’s “Lieber Meister” languish in virtual obscurity. This was driven home today as I assembled pages for the three buildings currently listed in Ohio. (Surely there are more than three Prairie School buildings in Ohio.) Wright’s excellent house in Springfield for Burton Westcott, manufacturer of luxury automobiles, is covered by dozens of web pages. As well it should be—the house was saved by its last private owner from almost certain decrepitude, and subsequently purchased from her by the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy, which immediately sold it to a local foundation that has restored it and operates it as a house museum. The result is spectacular and a must-see for PS travelers who find themselves in Ohio.

Contrast this, however, with the almost complete lack of information about Sullivan’s two Ohio banks. Admittedly, they are not the equal of Owatonna or Grinnell, but then, neither is the Westcott House the equal of the Coonley or Robie houses. True, there is an excellent book by Lauren S. Weingarden about the Sullivan banks, but the beautiful images in it only point out the irony of their lack on the Web: Wright’s interlocking geometry is often poorly expressed in, and perceived through, photographs, while Sullivan’s rich textures and vibrantly colored, visually explosive ornament are a photographer’s dream.


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As always, I welcome your comments about this site or any Prairie School building.

John A. Panning, Lake City, Iowa






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