Discovering the Dana Thomas House

Springfield, Illinois, is perhaps best known for its association with President Abraham Lincoln. It is home to Lincoln’s house, office, and tomb. Its historically significant architecture, however, do not stop there. In 1902, just 41 years after Lincoln was elected president and moved from Springfield to Washington, DC, a woman named Susan Lawrence commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel her house. Remodel, of course, used in the broadest sense–with the exception of one room (at Lawrence’s request), the building you see today is entirely Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Dana Thomas House is a complex but gratifying series of interwoven rooms. Most are entered and exited by a few steps, making the house exist at dozens of different levels. Cleverly placed cutaways create windows across to other spaces: for example, the staircase to the second floor encircles the living room, providing a variety of views as you ascend.

The Dana Thomas House is a wonderful example of Wright’s use of detail, a characteristic particularly seen in his earlier work and which is too often forgotten about. There is subtle, nature-inspired ornament inside and out, include a variety of art glass patterns featuring such things as butterflies and wheat. Fascinatingly, there is function here, too: several of the art glass windows are operable.

Just blocks from Springfield’s capitol building, the Dana Thomas House offers another facet to Springfield’s varied history. It is well worth the short walk to get a peak into this chapter of Springfield’s past.

Sources and Further Reading:

To visit the Dana Thomas House, check out the Dana Thomas House Foundation.

Interested in Frank Lloyd Wright sites? Check out my Explore page for more.

If you visit Springfield, I recommend the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

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