12 Famous Frank Lloyd Wright Houses Offer Virtual Tours: Hollyhock House, Taliesin West, Fallingwater & More

One might, it seems, be almost any­where in the U.S. and only a few hours dri­ve from a Frank Lloyd Wright house. The “Wis­con­sin-born Wright’s port­fo­lio,” writes Jess Hof­fert at Mid­west Liv­ing, con­sists “of about 500 struc­tures, a good por­tion of which still stand in the Mid­west.” Wright hous­es span the West Coast and nes­tle in the sub­urbs of Wash­ing­ton, DC. As mil­lions of vis­i­tors see up close every year at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art’s Frank Lloyd Wright Room, Wright’s style per­me­at­ed every part of his designs, inside and out.

But there’s no talk of trav­el these days. The Wright-designed homes and muse­um exhi­bi­tions that were open to the pub­lic have closed their doors to vis­i­tors “just when they were gear­ing up for the spring tour­ing sea­son to begin,” announced the Frank Lloyd Wright Build­ing Con­ser­van­cy. To make sure the pub­lic still has access to twelve of those famous works, the Conservancy—along with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion and the Uni­ty Tem­ple Restora­tion Foun­da­tion—have launched #WrightVir­tu­alVis­its, which offers vir­tu­al tours of 12 icon­ic hous­es.

The deliv­ery method is “a touch con­fus­ing,” Matt Hick­man com­ments at The Architect’s News­pa­per. Tours kick off at 12:00 Cen­tral every Thurs­day “for six weeks (and maybe more). Each week, the con­ser­va­tors of a spe­cif­ic Wright site will share a short yet inti­mate video tour on its web­site and asso­ci­at­ed media pages of anoth­er Wright site…. Each week, two fresh Wright prop­er­ties will par­take in this vir­tu­al tour swap.” This does require a close read­ing of the instruc­tions, and requires one to keep a date, as it were, for a Wright tour.

Giv­en the hous­es on dis­play, you might not find this too trou­ble­some.

Build­ings that have been fea­tured already or are up to bat in the com­ing weeks include the Uni­ty Tem­ple in Oak Park, Illi­nois; the Hol­ly­hock House, recent­ly named as the first UNESCO World Her­itage Site in Los Ange­les; Chicago’s Prairie School stun­ner, the Emil Bach House; Tal­iesin West, home of the (pos­si­bly) defunct School of Archi­tec­ture at Tal­iesin, in Scotts­dale, Ari­zona; the stun­ning yet often-over­looked Gray­cliff estate out­side of Buf­fa­lo, New York; Sama­ra, a pris­tine Uson­ian design in West Lafayette, Indi­ana; the Gor­don House, the only Wright build­ing in Ore­gon, and, of course, Falling­wa­ter.

That last house must sure­ly be Wright’s most famous, an exem­plar of his “Uson­ian” style. But no mat­ter what par­tic­u­lar idiom he chose, the Mid­west­ern aes­thet­ic val­ues that shaped his ear­ly Prairie Style car­ried through into all of his lat­er work. In her short guide to ten of the most well-known Prairie Hous­es, Wright expert Car­la Lind describes his visu­al phi­los­o­phy as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of “ideals in which mid­west­ern­ers believed.”

The seeds of the Prairie Style were root­ed in an appre­ci­a­tion for nature and a ded­i­ca­tion to the free­dom and indi­vid­u­al­i­ty inher­ent in democ­ra­cy. To that Wright added his own expe­ri­ences and influ­ences: his mother’s teach­ing via the Froebel gifts, that nat­ur­al law could be under­stood through geo­met­ric abstrac­tions; his father’s pas­sion for music, which intro­duced him to com­po­si­tion and har­mo­ny; the lit­er­a­ture of the day that informed him about the Aes­thet­ic and Arts and Crafts move­ments and tran­scen­den­tal writ­ers such as Whit­man, Emer­son, and Thore­au… the Japan­ese art and archi­tec­ture at the World’s Columbian Expo­si­tion….

The price of admission—free for as long as it lasts—makes this oppor­tu­ni­ty to see, from a safe social dis­tance, how Wright bal­anced these influ­ences well worth the vir­tu­al trip.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a 360° Vir­tu­al Tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Archi­tec­tur­al Mas­ter­pieces, Tal­iesin & Tal­iesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright Reflects on Cre­ativ­i­ty, Nature and Reli­gion in Rare 1957 Audio

Vis­it the Homes That Great Archi­tects Designed for Them­selves: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Cor­busier, Wal­ter Gropius & Frank Gehry

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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