Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Prairie Style in Wichita

I am a fan of FLLW and I have toured several of the homes he designed. I even had the opportunity to visit with one of his clients in 2003. That was a treat! Mr Schaberg gave me a tour of his home and we sat and visited about his experience as a FLLW client.

There are only a few FLLW homes in Kansas. The lone Prairie style home is in Wichita. It is one of the last Prairie style homes he designed.

The Allen-Lamb home in Wichita was built for Henry J Allen and his wife. Allen was a prominent politician in Kansas.

The home is a beautiful structure located at the corner of Roosevelt and 2nd St. Tours are available by appointment, I was in Wichita a few weeks ago and stopped by the house just to walk around and enjoy the architecture. I have done this many, many times. When I lived in Wichita, I would make a point of driving by the house several times a week on my way to work.

The Allen-Lamb home is a large two story, L shaped structure. The main floor is set above street level much like the Robie house in Chicago. You enter from a door located in the port-carche into a smallish entry hall, then step up into the living room. The living room is fairly large and ornately detailed as his homes of this period typically were. The brick used in the home would best be described as yellow roman. In the living room, Wright had gold leaf applied over the deeply raked mortar joints, something he never did on any other home.

The living room opens onto a beautiful patio with a large lily pool in the center. I can see sitting on the patio, listening to the sound of the small fountain and enjoying a cool drink on a warm day. There is no step down from the interior of the home to the tile of the patio. The only thing separating the two spaces is the threshold of the doorway. I very much like this feature, but, I can imagine there was always an issue of rain and melting snow entering the home from beneath the threshold.

The home was designed for wealthy clients with servants. The servant entrance and quarters are in the West end of the home while the owners access to the 2nd floor bedrooms was from a stairwell located in the East side. There is really nothing very remarkable about the 2nd floor or the bedrooms.

One other unique aspect of the home is the garage. Cars were a relatively new invention when the home was built and they were a bit of an unknown quantity. Either Wright or the owners had some concern of the cars catching fire and burning the home down. So Wright designed the garage to be entirely concrete and thus fireproof, even he ceiling.

So if you happen to be traveling through Wichita and you would like to see one of the finest examples of a FLLW Prairie Style home, make a detour and swing by the Allen-Lamb home. Even if you cannot arrange a tour, it is located in a beautiful neighborhood and you can walk around it and enjoy the architecture.

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