Thursday, February 10, 2011

" House Beautiful " by Frank Lloyd Wright

Mention the name Frank Lloyd Wright and several 20th century architectural masterpieces come to mind.  There is the Robie House in Chicago.  NYC has the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.  Fallingwater is a Wright masterpiece located in Pennsylvania.  Head to Oklahoma and one can find Wright's Price Tower.  Head to Willoughby Hills, Ohio and a noted Wright masterpiece is yours to experience.  It is not a museum, rather it is a residential home.  It is a home that today can be booked for a weekend stay or longer.  The residence is simply known as the Louis Penfield House.  It sits on thirty acres in Willoughby Hills and is located near the Willoughby Hills Metroparks property.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed over a thousand buildings in his lifetime.  Four hundred were built.  Unlike other architects, at the pinnacle of his career he continued to design private residences.  He called them "Usonians" and they were a highlight of his residential work.  Barely 100 were built and completed in his lifetime.  Louis Penfield was a painter and acquaintance of Frank Lloyd Wright.  He commissioned his friend to build him a home in 1955.  The Penfield House adhered to Wright's organic architectural beliefs.  The house was built of readily available materials such as cherry, walnut, and locust trees.  The completed house was then left unadorned.  To accommodate his friend's large 6'8"frame, Wright used high doorways, long windows and a floating staircase.

In the last year of Frank Lloyd Wright's life, he accepted another Penfield commission to design a second home.  Project 5909 was the last residential project of Wright's storied career.  It is also the only unbuilt Wright design with the original plot still available.  Wright had named his new home design 'Riverrock'.  It was to be constructed of stone gathered from the nearby Chagrin River.  Had it been completed as planned, this second home would have stood a mere 350' from the Penfield House.

Except for a brief period of time, the home has remained in the family possession.  Penfield House was entered into the NRHP in 1997.  Penfield's son chose to renovate the home in 2003 and make it available to experience by the public as an overnight residence.  Fees collected from this experience are being targeted for the future build of the 1959 second home project - known simply as number 5909.

A virtual tour and home history may be viewed at

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