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Frank Lloyd Wright Houses - Bernardsville, Cherry Hill, Glen Ridge, Millstone



Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 - 1959)

Wright was a prolific architect, with close to 500 of his designs built between 1885 and 1959. Wright invented "organic" architecture and is responsible for the Prairie and Usonian residential styles. Though most of his works were built in the Midwest, he designed four houses in New Jersey, all of which are considered Usonian houses. Usonian residences are affordable yet architecturally excellent houses for the middle class. Wright never retired; he died on April 9, 1959 at the age of ninety-two.

(MWS, Fall 2003)




Sweeton House, 1950, view of carport. Photograph courtesy Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants, Haddon Heights, NJ (see link below).

Sweeton House, 1950, fireplace block with entrance to kitchen at left. Photograph courtesy Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants, Haddon Heights, NJ (see link below).

Sweeton House, 1950, living room. Photograph courtesy Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants, Haddon Heights, NJ (see link below).

There are four houses by Frank Lloyd Wright in New Jersey: the James B. Christie House, Bernardsville (1940); the Stuart Richardson House, Glen Ridge (1941); the J.A. Sweeton House, Cherry Hill (1950); and the Abraham Wilson House, Millstone (1954).

All four New Jersey houses are examples of "organic" architecture, a term Wright used to describe a building designed in harmony with its natural environment. The Sweeton House (shown above) is built on a "T" plan and is the smallest of the four; it is constructed of concrete blocks and redwood plywood. The wooden deck at the back is a recent addition.

Like other Usonian designs, Wright's plans for the Jersey houses turn their back on the suburban street to face nature. At the Wilson House, for example, the front fa├žade of concrete blocks has an almost fortress-like appearance to ensure privacy from the street. The Wilson House is built with concrete blocks and Philippine mahogany. It has a second story with cantilevered balconies. The living room has a built-in banquette facing a wooded scene through a wall of 10 foot high glass panes, symbolizing a transcendental pew set before the altar of nature.

The Richardson house is made of brick and cypress and is built on a hexagonal plan. Like other Usonian houses, this one has no formal dining room. Usonian houses typically have grand living rooms flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows. This residence has 15 glass doors framing the living room.

The Christie house is a large, flat-roofed L-shaped house. The oldest and largest of the four, it has one story and is made of brick, cypress, and redwood. The resident of one of these houses stated that "everyday living in the house offers an enriching experience. We are living in a work of art rather than hanging it on a wall."

References:

William Allin Storrer, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

Fred B. Adelson, "On the Trail of Frank Lloyd Wright," New York Times (October 14, 2001), p.12.

Links:
http://www.wa-pc.com/

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