The Ward W. Willits House
Frank Lloyd Wright's First Great Prairie House
Designed in 1901, Frank Lloyd Wright created plans for the Ward W. Willits House in Highland Park north of Chicago for the vice president of the Adams & Westlake Company brass foundry. Muralist and glassmaker Orlando Giannini worked for Willits at the time and made the introduction to Frank Lloyd Wright. The Willits House incorporates aspects of Japanese architecture and the Dutch art movement, both of which influenced Wright's development of his iconic Prairie Style. With a cruciform layout built around a central fireplace, the residence synthesizes Wright's wood frame and stucco construction model in a natural, elegant manner. Furthermore, the hipped roof and overhanging eaves spanning the length of both stories would soon become Prairie signatures.
In addition to the Willits House itself, Wright designed accompanying interior furniture and decor along with over 100 art glass elements, including a series of leaded glass windows with a rectangular emphasis. Such an unadorned, geometric motif was considered dramatic in Western architecture at the turn of the 20th century. In retrospect, Wright came to consider the Willits House his "first great Prairie House." Although Wright and Willits eventually drifted apart, Willits continued living in the residence with his wife until he passed at age ninety-two in 1954. The present lot features a window that was removed during an early renovation of the Willits House after a new owner acquired the property.