Malcom Willey house
N 44° 57.628 W 093° 12.518
15T E 483545 N 4978579
Quick Description: A most intriguing transitional Prairie-Usonian house that underscores Wright's controversial recommendation to go out of town as far as you can and then go 10 miles further.
Location: Minnesota, United States
Date Posted: 10/29/2010 1:51:31 AM
Waymark Code: WMA12J
From the street it looks like a Prairie snout house with a garage the only thing visible from the street. From the riverside private side visible through the foliage along the alley adjacent to the I-94 soundwall it is all Usonian.
This is only Wright design executed in the Great Depression between between the Richard Lloyd Jones house in 1929 and Fallingwater in 1935. You can sense the pent up creativity with a wonderful array of layers and details evident throughout.
While most all of the classic Usonian features are here they are not arranged in the later typical order (visit link
) . In order from the street back is the garage, front door, workspace, dining/living room, gallery, study, bedroom, bathroom, and master bedroom. Some of the differences to later true Usonians are the brick floor though most of the house, the radiators rather than gravity/radiant heating, brick rather than plywood cutouts for the lightscreen, and the placement of the workspace.
Some of my favorite features include a miniature "telephone closest" in the workspace, the overstuffed down-filled Wright designed chairs in the living area, the combination of hinged and pinned windows for seasonal removal in the gallery, and the general lean-to feeling of shelter and openness of the main living area. The current owners have taken painstaking efforts to restore the Willey house as evidenced by the before photos on their website (visit link
When the house was built there was an unobstructed, rolling view down to the banks of the Mississippi River with most of Minneapolis at the time on the opposite side of the river. Now the trees have grown and Interstate I-94 and a soundwall was constructed immediately adjacent to the property obscuring the view.
This is a private house and should not be approached except by advance arrangement. The house is occasionally open for small group tours and special events (visit link