The Winslow House

(c) Mark Hertzberg (2016)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Winslow House in River Forest (1893-94) was the architect’s first independent commission after he left or was fired by Adler and Sullivan. Wright was only 26 years old when he designed the house, but it is one of his masterpieces.

LR Winslow House 001.jpgThere are elements of Louis Sullivan-inspired ornamentation combined with the beginnings of what became Wright’s Prairie-style work. William Winslow is said to have taken so much ridicule about its unusual design from acquaintances that he changed the route of his normal commute to work. I had the great pleasure and privilege of being allowed to photograph the house yesterday. The house is empty, pending finalization of its sale by the Walker family who have been its steward for 60 years. I will concentrate on my photographic impressions of the house, below, and challenge you to your own adventure of discovery as you research different critical analyses of the house and the genius of its design, rather than present my own architectural critique here.

Unlike many of Wright’s later homes, although there is a door at the porte-cochere, there is also a prominent front door facing the street:

LR Winslow House 029.jpg

The inglenook, which one encounters immediately across from the front door is one of the signature features of the house. Wright stresses the importance of the hearth by slightly elevating the inglenook to a separate level from the entry way:

LR Winslow House 042.jpg

The arches, which are echoed in many of the doorways on the first floor, show Sullivan’s influence at the top of the arch, and Wright’s nascent vocabulary at their bottom:

LR Winslow House 048.jpg

LR Winslow House 050.jpg

LR Winslow House 052.jpg

LR Winslow House 051.jpgLR Winslow House 053.jpg

Although Wright sometimes used commercial designs in the next few years, he designed windows at the Winslow House, including the dining room windows, top, and living room, below:

LR Winslow House 071.jpg

LR Winslow House 090.jpg

The passageway between the dining room and living room is arched dramatically:

LR Winslow House 075.jpg

Winslow Arches.jpg

Another famous feature of the house is the octagonal stair tower on the rear of the house. It is a geometric counterpoint to the flat plane of the front of the house and the curved dining room bay windows:

LR Winslow House 006.jpg

The real visual delight, though, is in looking at the design from above and below on the stairs themselves:

LR Winslow House 082.jpg

LR Winslow House 084.jpg

LR Winslow House 085.jpg

The stable was added at the rear of the property in 1897:

LR Winslow House 018.jpg

Unfortunately, the original gate across the front of the stable – later a garage with a turntable because many early cars did not have a reverse gear – is gone. Wright did not build even a simple base for the columns that flank the middle of the stable:

LR Winslow House 095.jpg

I leave you with Wright’s designs flanking the front door:LR Winslow House 033.jpg

2 thoughts on “The Winslow House

  1. Thanks for sharing Mark. My grandfather built his house two doors to the North of Winslow in 1952. He was friends with the architect/developer of the subdivision, Marty Braun. My brother and i would ride our tricycles around the planter of the Winslow when we were kids!

    ps…. We met at the hardy House last June. You introduce my friend Dennis White and me to Gene and he let us explore the upstairs after the tour was over. What a nice guy he was! so sad to hear of his passing!

  2. A stupendous masterpiece, and your photos do it justice. Views and details I haven’t seen anywhere else! As an architect myself, I’m frankly alarmed by Wright’s talent, right out of the gate, including the earlier Charnley House. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s