The Westcott House is three things.
- A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house
- A preservation success story
- A museum
Those three things, combined with its relatively close proximity to Cincinnati, make it a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in architecture and history.
If you're unfamiliar with Frank Lloyd Wright, let's get you up to speed. The man was arguably the most well-known American architect of the 20th century. He's known for designing both residential and commercial spaces while ushering in the Prairie School movement (the likes of which modernist architecture takes inspiration) over the course of his 70 years in the industry. Additionally, he often designed the furniture and interior details for his buildings, too.
He created hundreds of buildings all over the United States, from the famous Fallingwater residence in Pennsylvania to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Adding to his professional resume, Frank Lloyd Wright was a colorful character to boot. In articles about the architect, the words "melodramatic," "genius," and "narcissist" often bookend his name.
So when you come across Wright's buildings, it's important to pay attention because of both their architectural significance and for their contribution to one notable American's legacy.
Wright designed the Prairie Style Westcott House in 1906 for Burton J. and Orpha L. Westcott. It was finished in 1908. Burton was the treasurer of The American Seeding Machine Company and later the president of the Westcott Motor Car Company. Orpha, aside from being known as a progressive woman in her own right, is understood to have chosen Wright to design their house.
Westcott House is the only Prairie Style home Wright designed in the state of Ohio. When it was built, the two-story residence featured a garage with stables connected by elaborate pergola to the main house. The property sat atop an earthen plinth, elevating it slightly above street level. Dark wooden floors and raw umber walls were illuminated by scores of windows and stained glass skylights throughout the house. The house was also rigged for electric light.
Long story short, the Westcott House was sold in the late 1920s after Burton and Orpha had passed away. It was subdivided into five apartments in the mid-1940s, fell into disrepair by the 1990s, and was sold to the Westcott House Foundation in 2001. The Foundation bought the house with the intention of restoring it to its 1908 aesthetic. By 2005, they completed a $5.8 million renovation that successfully brought the Westcott House back to Frank Lloyd Wright's original vision.
Well, museum might be a bit of a misnomer. While it's staged in what experts believe is its original look, there's only one didactic panel in the entire house describing one piece of the house's background. But that's a good thing. The house looks its best without text in every corner.
Instead, visitors walk through and learn about the Westcott House via a docent-led guided tour preceded by a short documentary in the former garage (which is now a gift shop).
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The Westcott House is 82 miles north of Cincinnati and located at 1340 E. High Street, Springfield, OH (45505). Admission and hours, as well as more information about the Westcott House, can be found here.