N 42° 10.723 W 087° 47.222
16T E 435002 N 4669919
Quick Description: The Willits House is the first house designed in true Prairie style (but not the first built) and marks the full development of Wright's wood frame and stucco system of construction.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 11/1/2007 3:28:20 AM
Waymark Code: WM2GQJ
Wright used a cruciform plan with the interior space flowing around a central chimney core and extending outward onto covered verandas and open terraces.
Ward Willits was the president of an important brass and bronze foundry. His company made contributions to many architecturally significant projects. Frequent Wright artist Orlando Giannini was employed by Willits and may have been responsible for introducing the two.
The house is a massive cruciform structure, with the four wings extending from the hearth in the central core. The first floor consists of a porte cochere, entryway, and reception room on one side, and dining room and porch extension opposite in wing three. Wing two contains the great living room with high windows and a walled terrace. The fourth wing is in the rear and consists of the kitchen and staff rooms. At the front, low stucco exterior walls enclose the terrace with classical urns at the corners to further enhance the symmetry. The second floor includes the bedrooms, library and sewing room.
Wright and the Willitses became friends and in 1905; Wright made his first trip to Japan with them. However, unlike many others of Wright's patrons, their friendship did not survive the ill treatment of Wright's first wife and family and unpaid loans Wright is said to have had with Willits.
Ward Willits lived here until his death in 1954. Milton Robinson purchased the house and renovated it in the 1980s. Robinson and his artist wife Sylvie did much of the restoration themselves. Changes attempted to maintain Wright's spirit without sacrificing modern convenience. These changes include converting the former servant quarters into a master bedroom and modernizing the kitchen and bathroom facilities.
This is one of 17 Wright buildings designated by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to be retained as examples of his architectural contribution to American culture (visit link