Monday, December 20, 2004

Luminaria Evening offers quiet tour at Dana-Thomas House

One thousand brown bags emitting an orange glow lined the sidewalk, steps and ledges in and out of the Dana-Thomas House on Sunday evening as visitors lined up for the annual Luminaria Evening, a staple of the Springfield holiday season.

The luminarias have been a tradition since 1982, the year after the state bought the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, except for three years during which the house was being restored, said Donald Hallmark, the manager of the home.

The first year the event was held, there were only 200 luminarias. "It's been growing ever since, as we find new horizontal ledges to cover," Hallmark said. "As long as it's safe."

Between 1,500 and 1,700 people pass through the home on the silent tour each year the Sunday before Christmas. It takes more than 25 volunteers to help at the home for the four-hour (4 to 8 p.m.) event. Volunteers spend between 30 and 45 minutes just lighting the candles.

The evening raises between $2,000 and $3,500 in donations.

The practice of luminarias comes from the American southwest, which Hallmark has spent time visiting. "Normally they put out candles on Christmas Eve. Then it became standard practice in Santa Fe to put them out in the days leading up to Christmas. They put out thousands and thousands," Hallmark said. "Springfield took to it from the very beginning."

Designed in 1902, the house was ready for socialite Susan Lawrence Dana to move in by 1904. Charles Thomas bought the 12,600-square-foot house at 301 E. Lawrence Ave. and its furnishings in 1944, two years before Dana died. Thomas used it as the headquarters of his publishing firm. It is now a state historic site.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Wright-Designed Milwaukee Home Is Sold

By Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Norman Gabrielsen didn't know anything about famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright when he bought his stucco house on Burnham Street 40 years ago, only that the home "was built so nice." "Big sunroom, skylight, lots of windows. Fireplace in the middle of the house," the 80-year-old said.

The house is now considered a treasure, one of a unique row of six Prairie-style dwellings designed by Wright and built in 1915-16 as part of his mission to bring affordable, high-quality designs to working-class families. Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, a preservation group, recently bought the home for $130,000 and plans to restore it and open it to the public.

The Burnham Street houses -- four duplexes and two single-family homes -- are the only intact cluster of affordable Wright homes in the country, although a handful were built in the Midwest before the start of World War I. The so-called American System-Built homes, which sold for about $5,000, were a collaboration between the architect and developer Arthur Richards.

Although best known for sprawling, earth-hugging homes in the countryside, Wright was interested in creating low-cost shelters in urban neighborhoods and believed people of all economic classes were entitled to good architecture.

Denise Hice, president of Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin, said the preservation group hopes to acquire the other houses in the cluster over time -- or at least to encourage their rehabilitation.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Frank Lloyd Wright's Chicago

Thomas J. O'Gorman knows his stuff. Check out his book about Frank Lloyd Wright. This book presents 96 of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. There are 450 color photographs with some from the air. See the review at

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?